Defining appropriate stages of change for intimate partner violence survivors

Jessica Griffin Burke, Patricia Mahoney, Andrea Gielen, Karen A. McDonnell, Patricia O'Campo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Recent research suggests that the transtheoretical model of behavior change is a promising approach for interventions addressing women's experiences of intimate partner violence. This study explores the distribution of abused women across the stages of change for (a) staying safe from intimate partner violence and (b) leaving an abusive relationship. It explores the relationship between stage assignment and other indicators of a woman's stage (i.e., safety behaviors and desire for services). Quantitative surveys were conducted with 96 low-income, urban abused women recruited from six health care clinics. The findings call into question the appropriateness of using a staging algorithm that uses one "global" question about keeping safe and suggest that staging questions focused on a single action stage (e.g., leaving) are also problematic. In conclusion, additional work remains to be done to develop and validate quantitative measures of stages of change for survivors of intimate partner violence and to design, implement, and evaluated stage- based, tailored intimate partner violence interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-51
Number of pages16
JournalViolence and victims
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Abuse
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Safety behaviors
  • Stage of change
  • Transtheoretical model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)
  • Law


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