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Chicago Women's Health Risk Study, 1995-1998

Metadata Updated: November 28, 2023

The goal of the Chicago Women's Health Risk Study (CWHRS) was to develop a reliable and validated profile of risk factors directly related to lethal or life-threatening outcomes in intimate partner violence, for use in agencies and organizations working to help women in abusive relationships. Data were collected to draw comparisons between abused women in situations resulting in fatal outcomes and those without fatal outcomes, as well as a baseline comparison of abused women and non-abused women, taking into account the interaction of events, circumstances, and interventions occurring over the course of a year or two. The CWHRS used a quasi-experimental design to gather survey data on 705 women at the point of service for any kind of treatment (related to abuse or not) sought at one of four medical sites serving populations in areas with high rates of intimate partner homicide (Chicago Women's Health Center, Cook County Hospital, Erie Family Health Center, and Roseland Public Health Center). Over 2,600 women were randomly screened in these settings, following strict protocols for safety and privacy. One goal of the design was that the sample would not systematically exclude high-risk but understudied populations, such as expectant mothers, women without regular sources of health care, and abused women in situations where the abuse is unknown to helping agencies. To accomplish this, the study used sensitive contact and interview procedures, developed sensitive instruments, and worked closely with each sample site. The CWHRS attempted to interview all women who answered "yes -- within the past year" to any of the three screening questions, and about 30 percent of women who did not answer yes, provided that the women were over age 17 and had been in an intimate relationship in the past year. In total, 705 women were interviewed, 497 of whom reported that they had experienced physical violence or a violent threat at the hands of an intimate partner in the past year (the abused, or AW, group). The remaining 208 women formed the comparison group (the non-abused, or NAW, group). Data from the initial interview sections comprise Parts 1-8. For some women, the AW versus NAW interview status was not the same as their screening status. When a woman told the interviewer that she had experienced violence or a violent threat in the past year, she and the interviewer completed a daily calendar history, including details of important events and each violent incident that had occurred the previous year. The study attempted to conduct one or two follow-up interviews over the following year with the 497 women categorized as AW. The follow-up rate was 66 percent. Data from this part of the clinic/hospital sample are found in Parts 9-12. In addition to the clinic/hospital sample, the CWHRS collected data on each of the 87 intimate partner homicides occurring in Chicago over a two-year period that involved at least one woman age 18 or older. Using the same interview schedule as for the clinic/hospital sample, CWHRS interviewers conducted personal interviews with one to three "proxy respondents" per case, people who were knowledgeable and credible sources of information about the couple and their relationship, and information was compiled from official or public records, such as court records, witness statements, and newspaper accounts (Parts 13-15). In homicides in which a woman was the homicide offender, attempts were made to contact and interview her. This "lethal" sample, all such homicides that took place in 1995 or 1996, was developed from two sources, HOMICIDES IN CHICAGO, 1965-1995 (ICPSR 6399) and the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. Part 1 includes demographic variables describing each respondent, such as age, race and ethnicity, level of education, employment status, screening status (AW or NAW), birthplace, and marital status. Variables in Part 2 include details about the woman's household, such as whether she was homeless, the number of people living in the household and details about each person, the number of her children or other children in the household, details of any of her children not living in her household, and any changes in the household structure over the past year. Variables in Part 3 deal with the woman's physical and mental health, including pregnancy, and with her social support network and material resources. Variables in Part 4 provide information on the number and type of firearms in the household, whether the woman had experienced power, control, stalking, or harassment at the hands of an intimate partner in the past year, whether she had experienced specific types of violence or violent threats at the hands of an intimate partner in the past year, and whether she had experienced symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder related to the incidents in the past month. Variables in Part 5 specify the partner or partners who were responsible for the incidents in the past year, record the type and length of the woman's relationship with each of these partners, and provide detailed information on the one partner she chose to talk about (called "Name"). Variables in Part 6 probe the woman's help-seeking and interventions in the past year. Variables in Part 7 include questions comprising the Campbell Danger Assessment (Campbell, 1993). Part 8 assembles variables pertaining to the chosen abusive partner (Name). Part 9, an event-level file, includes the type and the date of each event the woman discussed in a 12-month retrospective calendar history. Part 10, an incident-level file, includes variables describing each violent incident or threat of violence. There is a unique identifier linking each woman to her set of events or incidents. Part 11 is a person-level file in which the incidents in Part 10 have been aggregated into totals for each woman. Variables in Part 11 include, for example, the total number of incidents during the year, the number of days before the interview that the most recent incident had occurred, and the severity of the most severe incident in the past year. Part 12 is a person-level file that summarizes incident information from the follow-up interviews, including the number of abuse incidents from the initial interview to the last follow-up, the number of days between the initial interview and the last follow-up, and the maximum severity of any follow-up incident. Parts 1-12 contain a unique identifier variable that allows users to link each respondent across files. Parts 13-15 contain data from official records sources and information supplied by proxies for victims of intimate partner homicides in 1995 and 1996 in Chicago. Part 13 contains information about the homicide incidents from the "lethal sample," along with outcomes of the court cases (if any) from the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. Variables for Part 13 include the number of victims killed in the incident, the month and year of the incident, the gender, race, and age of both the victim and offender, who initiated the violence, the severity of any other violence immediately preceding the death, if leaving the relationship triggered the final incident, whether either partner was invading the other's home at the time of the incident, whether jealousy or infidelity was an issue in the final incident, whether there was drug or alcohol use noted by witnesses, the predominant motive of the homicide, location of the homicide, relationship of victim to offender, type of weapon used, whether the offender committed suicide after the homicide, whether any criminal charges were filed, and the type of disposition and length of sentence for that charge. Parts 14 and 15 contain data collected using the proxy interview questionnaire (or the interview of the woman offender, if applicable). The questionnaire used for Part 14 was identical to the one used in the clinic sample, except for some extra questions about the homicide incident. The data include only those 76 cases for which at least one interview was conducted. Most variables in Part 14 pertain to the victim or the offender, regardless of gender (unless otherwise labeled). For ease of analysis, Part 15 includes the same 76 cases as Part 14, but the variables are organized from the woman's point of view, regardless of whether she was the victim or offender in the homicide (for the same-sex cases, Part 15 is from the woman victim's point of view). Parts 14 and 15 can be linked by ID number. However, Part 14 includes five sets of variables that were asked only from the woman's perspective in the original questionnaire: household composition, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), social support network, personal income (as opposed to household income), and help-seeking and intervention. To avoid redundancy, these variables appear only in Part 14. Other variables in Part 14 cover information about the person(s) interviewed, the victim's and offender's age, sex, race/ethnicity, birthplace, employment status at time of death, and level of education, a scale of the victim's and offender's severity of physical abuse in the year prior to the death, the length of the relationship between victim and offender, the number of children belonging to each partner, whether either partner tried to leave and/or asked the other to stay away, the reasons why each partner tried to leave, the longest amount of time each partner stayed away, whether either or both partners returned to the relationship before the death, any known physical or emotional problems sustained by victim or offender, including the four-item Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) scale of depression, drug and alcohol use of the victim and offender, number and type of guns in the household of the victim and offender, Scales of Power and Control (Johnson, 1996) or Stalking and Harassment (Sheridan, 1992) by either intimate partner in the year prior to the death, a modified version of the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) (Johnson, 1996) measuring the type of physical violence experienced by either intimate partner, and the Campbell Danger Assessment for the victim and offender. In addition, Part 14 contains a number of summary variables about the fatal incident, most of which are also in Part 13. These include questions related to the circumstances of the incident, time, place, witnesses, who had initiated the violence, outcome for the offender (e.g., suicide or other death, arrest, sentence, etc.), and outcome for children and others who witnessed the violence or found the body. Part 15 contains the same data as Part 14, except that each variable is presented from the woman's point of view, regardless of whether she was the victim or offender in the homicide. Additional summary variables were added regarding the overall nature of any prior physical abuse in the relationship, as well as the overall pattern of leaving and returning to the relationship in the year prior to the death.

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Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: us-pd

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Metadata Created Date August 18, 2021
Metadata Updated Date November 28, 2023

Metadata Source

Harvested from DOJ JSON

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date August 18, 2021
Metadata Updated Date November 28, 2023
Publisher National Institute of Justice
Identifier 3815
Data First Published 2000-10-18T00:00:00
Language eng
Data Last Modified 2006-03-30T00:00:00
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 011:21
Metadata Context
Metadata Catalog ID
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Harvest Object Id 306e01eb-6dc0-4e72-b525-9f91c07ceb73
Harvest Source Id 3290e90a-116f-42fc-86ac-e65521ef3b68
Harvest Source Title DOJ JSON
Program Code 011:060
Publisher Hierarchy Office of Justice Programs > National Institute of Justice
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash d339e5ca0a71133726930048103f70de8e3fd16b6463cbb16c725556b545deae
Source Schema Version 1.1

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