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Can J Public Health. 2003 Jan-Feb;94(1):52-8.

Intimate partner violence and health: a critique of Canadian prevalence studies.

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  • 1Department of Public Health Sciences and the Institute for Women's Studies and Gender Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.



The Canadian Public Health Association, along with other professional organizations, has identified intimate partner violence (IPV) as a priority health issue to which the health professions must respond. This study synthesizes Canadian studies on the prevalence of IPV against women, focusing in particular on the stated implications for women's health and health care.


Medical and social science databases were searched for all articles pertaining to IPV in Canada for 1974 through September 2000. Reference lists of these and other related publications were consulted to supplement the literature review. Data on study characteristics, methods, and results were extracted by two independent reviewers. Discrepancies were resolved by consensus.


Sixteen studies were identified in this review, 11 population-based and 5 conducted in clinical settings. Age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status were not consistently documented, making comparisons and evaluations of generalizability difficult. Annual prevalence of IPV in Canada was found to range from 0.4% to 23%, with severe violence occurring from 2% to 10% annually. Less than two fifths (37.5%) of the studies incorporated a health-related measure.


This review reveals a paucity of Canadian prevalence data on IPV, marked by design and methodological issues. Poor quality data may pose a challenge to articulating and establishing a coordinated health care response to eliminating IPV in Canada.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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