WOMEN WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA HAVE THREEFOLD RISK OF INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE DURING AND AFTER PREGNANCY
About 1 in 5 (20.7%) women with schizophrenia experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime, about 9 times the risk for those without serious mental illness. However, little is known about their risk during the perinatal period.
Led by researchers from ICES and Women’s College Hospital, the study included more than 1.8 million pregnant people aged 15–49 years, of whom 4470 had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia were more likely to live in a lower-income neighborhood, to have other psychiatric and chronic medical conditions, and to have had an emergency department (ED) visit for interpersonal violence in the 2 years before their pregnancy.
Overall, 3.1% of people with schizophrenia had an ED visit for interpersonal violence during pregnancy and the first year postpartum, versus 0.4% of those without schizophrenia.
Pregnant individuals with schizophrenia were equally likely to be screened for (74.3% v. 73.8%), yet more likely to self-report (10.2% v. 2.4%), interpersonal violence.
Among study participants who were screened and did not disclose interpersonal violence in pregnancy, schizophrenia was associated with a sixfold increase in the risk of experiencing an ED visit for interpersonal violence in both pregnancy and postpartum.
The study suggests “that routine violence screening in antenatal care settings is an important opportunity for intervention to prevent severe physical, psychological and social harm to these patients and their children,” writes Dr. Simone Vigod, head of psychiatry, Women’s College Hospital and a professor at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, with coauthors.