Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Chwalisz, Kathleen

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the negative effects of intimate partner violence on college women's health promoting behaviors such as physical exercise. Data were collected from 375 college women and 122 male students at a large Midwestern university. Examination of demographic variables and other background factors in both the female and male sample suggested that instances of intimate partner violence frequently occurred in this college student population. Tests of structural equation models with data from the female sample revealed that women's sense of agency and perceived levels of stress fully mediated the relationship between intimate partner violence and women's engagement in physical exercise. Women's gender role attitudes further predicted participation in physical exercise; however, gender role attitudes were not significantly related to other variables in the model. Findings are indicative of the widespread effects of intimate partner violence on positive behaviors as well as negative health behaviors that have been the focus of previous research. The conceptual, empirical, and clinical needs to address and facilitate women's engagement in health promoting behaviors are discussed. High rates of intimate partner violence among college students call for outreach and preventive measures on college campuses. Systemic issues of male to female intimate partner violence are addressed as well as the necessity of culturally sensitive research in this area of investigation.

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