Women's Perceptions of the Impact of a Domestic Violence Treatment Program for Male Perpetrators

Karen S. Hayward, PhD, RN, SANE-A; Susan Steiner, PhD, RNC, FNP; Kathy Sproule, MS, RN, FNP-C


J Foren Nurs. 2007;3(2):77-83. 

In This Article

Data Collection

The female sample participated in the study on a voluntary basis and received verbal and written consent materials, although the written materials were not given to the victims to take with them in order to ensure their safety. Participants were each provided a $25 gift card to a local store after they completed the interview.

Participants were asked to engage in a 60 to 90 minute interview conducted by the nurse researcher in a private office of the organization. Informed consent was obtained before each interview. The participants were interviewed face to face following a guided response, open-ended, focused but exploratory format where the nurse researcher asked five initial questions. Spontaneous related questions were asked to clarify or expand on the participant's answers. Each question allowed the participant to verbally describe her perceptions of the treatment program's impact. Field notes were taken and the interviews were audiotaped and transcribed by the nurse researcher. Data saturation was evident following five interviews, however eight interviews were completed to take advantage of the consents from all the women who had agreed to participate.

Although the nurse researcher had no previous experience with qualitative research data collection, she was experienced in collecting subjective assessment data as a nurse and family nurse practitioner student in her final semester of study. Further training and practice experience was provided by the faculty advisor prior to data collection.

The primary ethical concern of nonmaleficence to prevent inadvertent harm or distress in the research with these women participants was carefully considered. Privacy, confidentiality, safety, freedom to discontinue at any time, and adequate and informed consent were discussed and addressed with each participant prior to any data collection. Each participant was made aware of services available free of charge, 24 hours a day from the local victim service organization. These considerations are paramount to address as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) in published guidelines for addressing ethical and safety issues in domestic violence research (Ellsberg & Heise, 2002).

The five questions asked of each participant were developed by the research team consisting of the graduate student and her two faculty advisors. The questions to be included in the interview process were considered in context of the published goals of Idaho state approved batterer intervention programs and found in the document, Minimum Standards for Domestic Violence Treatment Programs (ICDVVA, 2005) and were as follows:

  1. Tell me how the communication between you and your partner has or has not changed since his participation in treatment

  2. What alternatives, if any, to violence, has your partner used in situations where he previously would have expressed anger and become violent toward you?

  3. Tell me about the level of safety you feel, with respect to your partner, since he has completed treatment.

  4. Tell me about the level of responsibility you have seen your partner take for his violent behavior.

  5. In what ways, if any, has your partner shown you he is genuinely remorseful for hurting you?

Data were analyzed using the data analysis spiral as described by Cresswell (1998). Analytic circles were used to move the data from the transcribed interviews to a narrative. In the first loop of data management, file cards were created. Transcripts and field notes were read several times to develop a feeling for the entire interview. Initial categories were then described and classified into themes. Themes related to the five interview questions were identified as well as four central themes. Although the researchers had no personal experience with domestic violence, data analysis involved a conscious effort to "bracket" all prejudgments and previous professional domestic violence experience (Cresswell, 1998, p. 52).

Credibility of data was supported by careful and consistent engagement with participants, member checks, and searching for disconfirming evidence. Member checks, which verify credibility by asking participants for their view of the findings and interpretations, were conducted informally during all initial interviews by confirming participant statements. Following data analysis, individual formal member checks were conducted in the agency's private office with three of the participants. Although all participants were asked initially to return for a second interview, only three chose to complete the member check. Agreement was found with the emerging themes following extraction of significant statements regarding the phenomena, and the systematic organization of statements into clusters of meaning. No substantial additional information was offered and confidentiality of all participants was carefully preserved.

In addition, one co-author performed an inquiry audit allowing external review of the data to help establish dependability and confirmability. Following a discussion of the audit results, it was agreed substance abuse emerged as a central theme. Field notes, transcription of interviews, coding transcription and marginal remarks render the results credible and believable. Thick data description supported transferability of the findings (Thorne, 2000). A narrative was developed describing the lived experiences of the women after their partner had completed treatment.


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