Date of Award

Spring 1999

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services--Health Services

Committee Director

Stacey Plichta

Committee Member

Clare Houseman

Committee Member

Laurel Garzon


The purpose of this study is to measure the knowledge and attitudes of physicians toward victims of spouse abuse. All 150 practitioners in the specialities of emergency medicine, family medicine, obstetrics-gynecology and psychiatry, in a large area general hospital are included in the sampling frame; 76 responded (RR = 51%). Knowledge and attitudes were measured using the Physician Survey on Spouse Abuse. Rosenberg's Tripartite Model of Attitude formed the theoretical basis for this study. Participants were 72% male, 90% white, 88% currently married, with a mean age of 44 years (SD = 7.99). Mean years in practice was 14.61 (SD = 7.71); 63% were in private practice, and 47% practiced in suburban areas. A minority, 21% had no course content on spouse abuse and majority, 81% were not trained in spouse abuse prevention following graduation.

Only 27% secured a pass on the knowledge quiz. 68% had positive summary attitude measure. 70% had a positive overall belief, 97% had positive beliefs about physician role, 65% had positive beliefs about victims, and 30% had positive beliefs about resources. 11% had a positive affect score. 84% had positive verbal statements of behavior, 22% had positive behaviors on frequency of suspecting abuse. 50% of the respondents identified 5 or less victims in the past year. Whites had significantly less positive summary attitude measure, beliefs about physician role, and affect scores. Older physicians had significantly less positive overall belief scores, beliefs about victims and identified fewer victims of abuse. Females were significantly more likely to pass the knowledge quiz and they were also more likely to hold positive beliefs about victims of abuse. Married physicians were significantly less likely to pass the knowledge quiz and to have less positive affect scores. Family practitioners were least likely to behave positively toward victims of abuse. Physicians with fewer years in practice were more likely to have positive beliefs about victims. Speciality was the strongest predictor of attitudes.

Physicians seem to hold most positive beliefs, are less likely behave positively toward victims of abuse and are even less likely to feel positive about providing services to victims of abuse.