Article| Volume 17, ISSUE 5, P310-315, September 2007

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Vaginal Douching and Intimate Partner Violence

Is There an Association?
Published:August 03, 2007DOI:


      This study tests the hypothesis that vaginal douching among women of reproductive age is associated with exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV).


      The data source is a cross-sectional population-based sample of 2,002 women ages 18–45 in the Central Pennsylvania Women’s Health Study. The survey included measures of IPV, douching behavior, and relevant sociodemographic and health-related covariates.


      Six percent of the sample reported experiencing any type of IPV in the past year, and 23% reported douching in the past year. IPV is significantly associated with douching after controlling for sociodemographic and health-related covariates. This finding holds for women with and without current reproductive capacity.


      This is the first study to identify an association between vaginal douching and IPV. Because vaginal douching is a risk factor for sexually transmitted infections, bacterial vaginosis, and adverse pregnancy outcomes, the findings could have important implications for prevention. Further research is needed to identify the reasons why women who have been exposed to IPV are more likely to douche.
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      Carol S. Weisman, PhD, is Professor of Public Health Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine; Director of the Central Pennsylvania Center of Excellence for Research on Pregnancy Outcomes; and Principal Investigator of the Central Pennsylvania Women’s Health Study (CePAWHS). She is a sociologist whose research focuses on women’s health, health care, and policy.


      Diane M. Grimley, PhD, is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Behavior, School of Public Health, at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. She is a health psychologist whose research interests include STD/HIV prevention, intervention, and control, and other reproductive health issues.


      Lucy Annang, PhD, MPH, is Assistant Professor of Health Behavior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Her areas of research include STI prevention, women’s reproductive health, adolescent risk prevention, and minority health.


      Marianne M. Hillemeier, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Administration and Demography at the Pennsylvania State University. She is Co-Principal Investigator of the Central Pennsylvania Women’s Health Study (CePAWHS). Her research interests include socioeconomic and race/ethnic disparities in health status and access and utilization of health care.


      Gary A. Chase, PhD, is Professor in the Division of Biostatistics at Penn State College of Medicine. He has served as principal statistician on a number of projects related to public health and infant outcomes including the Central Pennsylvania Women’s Health Study (CePAWHS) of the Central Pennsylvania Center of Excellence for Research on Pregnancy Outcomes.


      Anne-Marie Dyer, MS, is a biostatistician whose interests include the analysis of categorical data in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.