BMC Womens Health. 2022 Jun 8;22(1):215. doi: 10.1186/s12905-022-01780-4.
BACKGROUND: Intimate partner violence (IPV) adversely affects women’s reproductive health outcomes but to what extent women’s justification of IPV affects maternal health care service utilization is unexplored.
METHODS: The secondary cross-sectional datasets from multiple indicator cluster surveys of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan conducted between 2010 and 2015 were used. We used a generalized linear mixed model with random effects, at both cluster- and country-level, to determine the odds ratio of maternal health service utilization at the regional level and a multivariable logistic regression model adjusting for complex survey design at the country level. Interaction between women’s justification of IPV and residential location, and linear trend in the utilization of maternal health care services associated with increasing levels of women’s justification of IPV, were examined using the Likelihood Ratio Test (LRT).
RESULTS: A total of 26,029 women aged 15-49 years, living with their partners and had a pregnancy outcome 2 years prior to the survey were included. Women justifying IPV were less likely to utilize contraceptive methods (aOR) = 0.86, 95% CI 0.84, 0.88), at-least one Antenatal Care (ANC) visit (aOR = 0.80, 95% CI 0.72, 0.88), four or more ANC services (aOR = 0.81, 95% CI 0.76, 0.86), institutional delivery (aOR = 0.87, 95% CI 0.80, 0.94) and Post-natal Care (aOR = 0.76, 95% CI 0.62, 0.95) services. A decreasing linear trend was observed for four or more ANC visits (LRT P = 0.96) and institutional delivery (LRT P = 0.80) with increasing levels of IPV justification. Women justifying IPV were less likely to have at least one ANC visit in urban (aOR 0.67, 95% CI 0.60, 0.75) compared to rural areas (aOR 0.83, 95% CI 0.73, 0.94).
CONCLUSIONS: Women’s justification of IPV was associated with decreased odds of utilizing a wide range of maternal health care services at the regional level. Although further research that may help establish a causal link is important before formulating public health interventions, our study indicates interventions targeting women’s condoning attitude toward IPV, delivered sooner rather than later, could potentially help to improve women’s utilization of essential maternal health care services in the South Asian region that comprises Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan.