Published Papers - Abstract 697

Loxton D, Powers J, Fitzgerald D, Forder P, Anderson A, Taft A & Hegarty K. The community composite abuse scale: Reliability and validity of a measure of intimate partner violence in a community survey from the ALSWH. Journal of Women's Health, Issues & Care, 2013; 2(4):

Research examining the prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is limited by a lack of comprehensive measurement tools. While the Composite Abuse Scale (CAS) was designed to assess multiple forms of partner abuse, to date it has been primarily used in clinical samples and has not been applied to the broader community. This study aimed to validate a version of the CAS that was modified to suit community distribution (CCAS). Participants were 7608 women from the 1973-1978 cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health who provided complete data on the CCAS when it was administered within the self-report questionnaire of the fourth survey in 2006. Factor analyses revealed that the CCAS reliably distinguished three different types of abuse (labelled physical abuse, emotional abuse, and harassment), and a stand-alone item indicating sexual abuse. The validity of the CCAS and its subscales was demonstrated by support for all proposed hypotheses. CCAS scores were significantly positively correlated with other measures of abuse and with relationship stress. Scores on the CCAS and its subscales were negatively correlated with mental and physical health, and positively correlated with general practitioner visits. The current study has demonstrated the acceptability and validity of a comprehensive measure of abuse in a community sample. For women in their twenties and thirties, the one-year prevalence of abuse was found to be 25% overall, with 23% experiencing emotional abuse, 9% experiencing physical abuse, 5% experiencing harassment and 1% experiencing sexual abuse. The most common form of abuse was emotional abuse, which may be least recognised as abuse by the women themselves. Hence it is important to measure intimate partner abuse using a variety of items, to help prevent underreporting, and to take a lifecourse perspective, to recognise the warning signs of abuse onset and of abuse escalation.