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Comparing The Effectiveness Of Gender-Specific And Couples Groups In A Court-Mandated Spouse Abuse Treatment Program

Stephen J. Brannen, Allen Rubin

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This study represents the first attempt to directly compare two common methods of providing spouse abuse intervention, group treatment of couples, or gender-specific groups. Forty-nine couples were randomly assigned to one of the two treatments. Of these, data were available at posttest on only 42 couples because of attrition of the victimized spouses. A multiple analysis of covariance at posttest demonstrated that for the majority of abusers it did not matter which treatment was used. However, for those with a history of alcohol abuse, the couples approach was clearly superior. Analysis of victims' reports at a 6-month follow-up suggests that neither treatment approach was more effective in sustaining initial treatment gains over time. Finally, the issue of victim safety was addressed. Qualitative assessment of weekly reporting sheets suggests that women who received the couples group intervention were in no more danger than those receiving treatment in the gender-specific groups.