of Wife Abuse: A Comparison of Gender-Specific and Conjoint Approaches
Priscilla Schulz, LCSW
from an article of the same title by:
K. Daniel O'Leary, Richard E. Heyman, and Peter H. Neidig, State University of New York at Stony Brook
Behavior Therapy, V. 30, 475-505, 1999
What is the purpose of this study?
Subjects were drawn from a primarily white,
middle-class suburban Long Island, NY, community. Newspaper ads announcing
free treatment for couples, whose "arguments led to throwing, pushing,
shoving, etc.," solicited study participation. Of the many couples who
responded to the ad, 75 couples met criteria to participate in the study
and were randomly assigned to receive either GST or PACT. All participants
had experienced at least two acts of husband-to-wife aggression that did
not cause injuries requiring medical attention in the year prior to participating
in the study.
Because of safety concerns, wives participating in the study were interviewed briefly in private by researchers and asked if they would be comfortable with couples' treatment; all were. Also, none reported being afraid of living with her husband. Throughout the study, researchers administered a brief questionnaire before each treatment session to assess physical or psychological aggression that might have resulted from topics discussed in a previous therapy session.
Both GST and PACT consisted of 14 two-hour sessions and were conducted as group therapy. Women's GST groups had six to eight participants plus a female therapist. Men's GST groups were similarly composed. PACT groups consisted of six to eight couples plus a male-female therapy team per group. To ensure that treatment conditions adhered to the different theoretical models for GST and PACT, therapists followed detailed, session-by-session treatment outlines.
Before treatment, immediately after treatment
and at one year posttreatment, subjects completed a packet of self-report
surveys that explored characteristics of their marital violence and subjects'
responses to the violence. Standardized measures assessed psychological
and physical abuse, husbands' behaviors that involved dominance or attempts
to isolate his wife from others, victims' fearfulness, spouses' appraisal
of blame and causality of the marital violence, depression, degree of
marital satisfaction, deficits in verbal skill at resolving conflict,
and overall psychological well-being. Researchers also developed two questionnaires
for the study: one asked about incidents of violence precipitated by treatment
and participants' fearfulness resulting from treatment; the other assessed
consumer satisfaction with treatment. Subjects' responses to these surveys
were analyzed and the effectiveness of GST versus PACT for reducing marital
violence and improving marital satisfaction was statistically evaluated.
Both GST and PACT couples who completed
treatment reported a significant decrease in marital aggression and violence
during treatment, at posttreatment and at the one-year follow-up.
Significant improvements in marital satisfaction were reported as a result of treatment, regardless of treatment method.
Reviewed by Priscilla Schulz, February 2000