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Womens Health Issues. 2008 Jan-Feb;18(1):35-43. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2007.10.007.

An examination of the perceived social support levels of women in methadone maintenance treatment programs who experience various forms of intimate partner violence.

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Adelphi University School of Social Work, Garden City, NY 11530, USA.



Intimate partner violence (IPV) has emerged as a serious problem among women in drug treatment programs. Research has underscored the importance of social support for abused women as well as women who use substances.


The main objectives of this study were to describe the perceived social support levels and examine the associations between various forms of IPV and perceived levels of available social support perceived levels among a sample of women in drug treatment programs.


Face-to-face, structured interviews were conducted with randomly selected 416 women on methadone.


The prevalence of physical, sexual, and injurious IPV in the sample was 39%, 31%, and 16% respectively, and the combined IPV prevalence was 44.5%. Findings from multiple linear regression models revealed that lower levels of perceived social support were significantly associated with physical aggression (beta = -4.71; p = .0001), sexual assaults (beta = -4.10; p = .003), and injurious attacks (beta = -4.03; p = .022). Respondents perceived highest levels of social support from their "significant others" (mean = 5.64; standard deviation [SD] = 1.27) and lowest levels of social support from friends (mean = 4.20; SD = 1.48). The average network size was 2.7 individuals.


Findings from this study highlighted significantly lower levels of perceived social support levels for drug-using women in the context of IPV experiences. Interventions with these women should focus on strengthening social support networks that enable help seeking for both IPV and substance abuse issues.

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