Date of Award

12-1-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Rehabilitation

First Advisor

Crimando, William

Abstract

Statistics about violence experienced by women with disabilities are alarming, and yet, the reporting of this specific form of violence is neglected. Previous research indicates that though interpersonal violence affects women with disabilities like a hidden “epidemic”, the phenomenon is severely underreported. Women with disabilities frequently come in contact with human service providers; however, provider-based prejudice coupled with lack of education about women’s issues result in failing to screen for violence, or error in reporting. This study focused on measuring disability service providers’ competence in understanding and reporting interpersonal violence as experienced by women with disabilities. The objective of this study was to develop a self-assessment instrument to quantify service providers’ expertise in understanding, screening and reporting of interpersonal violence as experienced by women with disabilities. Data were collected in two phases. In the first phase, for the pilot study, data were acquired from 15 expert members; in the second phase, for the main study, data were obtained from 203 Masters level human service providers. Once collected, data were analyzed using exploratory factor analysis with Promax rotation to establish validity. The instrument thus generated was designated as SPCV-WD (Human Service Provider Competence about reporting Violence on Women with Disability scale), and it comprised of four factors (perception, training, screening and reporting, and awareness). These four factors loaded on 40 items, with an overall Cronbach’s alpha value of .833, explaining 45% of the total variance. Four dimensions of competency were identified from the qualitative data collected through the comments of participating service providers in the main study: absence of training, learning from personal interest, necessity of addressing violence, relevance of addressing abuse. This scale can be considered a reliable and valid measure to evaluate service provider competence in understanding and reporting violence as experienced by women with disabilities. It has the potential to be used for intervention and reform in academic and professional training pertaining to interpersonal violence. As this was an initial, exploratory study, future studies are essential to verify and confirm the factor structure and the psychometric properties of SPCV-WD. Keywords: instrument development, competence measurement, violence, women with disabilities, human service providers

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