Attitudinal Change in Participants of Partner Assault Response (PAR) Programs: A Pilot Project

3. RESULTS (cont'd)

3. Results (cont'd)

3.5 Change in attitudes over time

Analyses also explored changes in men's attitudes from pre- to post-program. Change analyses are an essential component of measurement development for two reasons. First, it is critical to establish that constructs being measured are changeable and not stable aspects of personality. Moreover, measures must be able to capture sufficient range in constructs so that ceiling and floor effects do not unduly limit analysis of change over time. Second, it is essential to determine if measures are capturing an aspect of change that is relevant to men's success in intervention. For example, it may be that intervention leads to change (e.g., positive views towards facilitators), but in a variable unrelated to improvement in the behaviour that is that key target of intervention (i.e., abuse).

Change in men's attitudes from pre- to post-program was examined in a number of ways in the current report. First, it was established whether there was change over time in target constructs. Second, an attempt was made to detect differences in change over time for voluntarily attending men, and men attending as a result of probation or early intervention. Finally, men's change was examined with reference to counsellor judgement of men's risk for continued abusive behaviour.

3.6 Sensitivity of attitude measures to change over intervention

To determine if developed measures were sensitive to change over time, mean scores for men at pre- and post-program were compared (see Figure 5). Statistical analyses (i.e., Paired sample t-tests) were used to determine if changes in mean scores over time were significant.

Figure 5. Men's Attitudes Pre- and Post-Intervention

Figure 5. Men's Attitudes Pre- and Post-Intervention
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As shown, men's average scores in all attitude domains improved slightly over treatment. Specifically, after intervention, men's attitudes reflected greater personal responsibility for abuse, less partner blame, greater readiness for intervention, less sexist attitudes towards women, and less denial of expected relationship difficulties (coded again with a low score of 1). Change in two of these domains - personal responsibility for abuse and denial of expected relationship difficulties - were statistically significant [9]. Men's attitudes towards women, partner blame and readiness for intervention, in contrast, were not significantly different at pre- and post-program.

Similar analyses were completed to determine if there was significant change in men's attitudes towards the incident that resulted in their referral to a PAR program. Men reported slightly lesser negative attitudes about their responsibility for the incident that resulted in their referral after intervention (see Figure 6), though differences in men's scores over time were not statistically significant.

Figure 6. Men's Negative Attitudes Toward the Referral Incident Pre- and Post-Intervention

Figure 6. Men's Negative Attitudes Toward the Referral Incident Pre- and Post-Intervention
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Finally, an examination was done of change in men's knowledge over intervention. Men's responses to the post-intervention questionnaire were scored as either correct or incorrect using the same criteria as used pre-intervention. As shown in Figure 7, men's knowledge did increase over intervention. Among the subsample of men who completed treatment, men failed to correctly identify 3.62 of the 17 listed abusive/controlling behaviours. After intervention, men's error rate was reduced to 2.38, a difference that closely approaches statistical significance [10]. Men's misidentification of cognitions likely to lead to healthy and unhealthy behaviours was similarly improved over intervention. Pre-intervention, this subsample of men were unsuccessful in linking an average of 3.62 of the 14 thoughts to the relevant healthy or unhealthy behaviour. After intervention, this error rate was reduced to 2.62. This difference in error rate was not statistically significant.

Figure 7. Men's Errors in Identifying Abuse/Controlling Behaviours and Healthy and Unhealthy Thoughts

Figure 7. Men's Errors in Identifying Abuse/Controlling Behaviours and Healthy and Unhealthy Thoughts
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3.7 Change among men according to referral source

Of the 14 men for whom data is currently available, 11 were attending intervention as a result of a probation referral, 3 were attending voluntarily, and none were referred by Early Intervention Court. Given the low numbers of men referred by sources other than probation, it is not possible to make any conclusions about the degree of change for men from different referral sources.

3.8 Change among men who seemed successful and unsuccessful in intervention

At the end of intervention, men's counsellors were asked to judge whether each man was likely, very likely, or unlikely to avoid abusing his intimate partner in the future. This judgement was made using both men's behaviour during group and information from contact with men's partners. Among the 14 men for whom data was available, counsellors judged that 8 were likely to avoid abuse and 4 were likely to continue abuse. For the remaining 2 men, counsellors indicated that they were completely unsure about the likelihood of men re-offending. Interestingly, these numbers provide a relatively close match to those in large evaluation studies, with approximately one third of men (in this case, 29%) identified as likely continuing abusive behaviour and the remaining two thirds judged as less problematic.

To determine if the constructed measures differentiated men judged as successful and unsuccessful over intervention, pre- to post-intervention difference scores can be compared for groups of men judged as successful and unsuccessful. Unfortunately, given the small number of men in the successful and unsuccessful groups, no conclusions can be made about the expected relationships between attitude change and men's judged success through intervention.


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