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Abuse, Ethnicity, Hispanic, Sexually transmitted disease



  1. Winn, Nicole
  2. Records, Kathie PhD, RN
  3. Rice, Michael PhD, ARNP


Purpose: To examine the relationship between abuse, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection among childbearing women using Selye's (1978) stress response theory.


Design and Methods: Retrospective chart review (n = 205) from two different clinical sites in Washington State, using the Childbearing Health Questionnaire to guide data collection. The women in the sample had an average age of 26.4 years and represented Anglo (81.4%), Hispanic (12%), Native American (3.9%), and African American (2.5%) ethnic groups. Thirty-eight percent (n = 78) reported experiencing physical and/or sexual abuse during their lifetimes and 31% had been diagnosed with an STD.


Results: Abuse was significantly related to STDs, and ethnicity emerged as a significant variable for the Hispanic women participating in this study. Findings indicated that infection with group B Streptococcus was also related to abuse status (r = .60, p <= .002) and to presence of herpes simplex virus-2 (r = .468, p <= .01). Total prevalence of STDs was positively related to abuse (r = .78, p <= .000). Abused Hispanic women were more likely to be positive for STDs than were their nonabused counterparts (p <= .03).


Clinical Implications: The findings support previously published results that abuse is widespread in the United States and that abused women are at increased risk for STDs. These results highlight the need for regular screenings for abuse during healthcare, for abuse is a critical variable to consider when screening for STDs and GBS. STD screening typically occurs during the first prenatal visit and may need to be repeated for high-risk groups.