Abstract: Intimate Partner Violence Among LGBQ Individuals: Strengths and Limitations of Existing Datasets (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

Intimate Partner Violence Among LGBQ Individuals: Strengths and Limitations of Existing Datasets

Saturday, January 16, 2016: 8:00 AM
Ballroom Level-Renaissance Ballroom West Salon B (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
* noted as presenting author
Ashley Givens, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Laurie M. Graham, MSW, Doctoral Student, Royster Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Cynthia Fraga Rizo, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background and Purpose: Despite the need to better understand the dynamics of intimate partner violence (IPV) among people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer (LGBQ) or who are involved in same-sex relationships, a dearth of research exists on the topic (e.g., IPV perpetration prevalence among this population). Employing secondary data analysis with existing national datasets provides an opportunity to address a critical gap in the literature among this vulnerable population. Depending on the variables within existing datasets, pre-existing data can be used to explore important questions regarding prevalence, risk and protective factors, dynamics, and consequences of IPV for LGBQ individuals. Given the costs of conducting large, national studies and the current funding environment, existing data can be used to propel the field forward until large-scale efforts can be made to obtain a nationally representative sample of LGBQ individuals. However, research examining the dynamics of IPV among LGBQ populations is often fraught with methodological concerns, including issues with definition and identification of sexual orientation, sampling, design, and violence measurement. To help researchers access and use existing datasets to advance research regarding IPV among these populations, the current study explores the availability of national datasets and their methodological strengths and limitations.

Methods: A review of national datasets was conducted to determine the availability of data to examine IPV among LGBQ populations. Datasets were targeted based on a previously published article identifying data sets relevant to IPV and health, as well as the authors’ knowledge of datasets containing IPV markers. Fourteen datasets were identified for review based on the criteria of (1) including an U.S. population and (2) containing at least one IPV marker. These were reviewed to determine measurement of LGBQ status. Only four contained at least one question to identify LGBQ status. Datasets were described with respect to study purpose, sample, data collection method and content, strengths, and limitations.

Results: Among the national datasets that were reviewed, the limited availability of data for examining IPV among LGBQ individuals is limited. Four datasets included a variable regarding sexual orientation, type of partner relationship (i.e., same-sex or mixed-sex), or gender identity of both partners in an intimate relationship. These datasets included large variability in the way LGBQ status was defined and measured. Additionally, few datasets contain information regarding victimization and perpetration. Further strengths and limitations regarding IPV measurement, sample size, validation of measures, assessment of victimization and perpetration, additional variables measured, and years of available data are presented. 

Implications: Based on the review of the available datasets to examine IPV among LGBQ individuals, it is clear that more research is needed to understand the complexities of IPV among these groups. Measurement of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as unique IPV experiences need to be examined through a more culturally appropriate lens with larger, more representative samples. Despite limitations, secondary data and analysis provide a foundation on which to explore IPV-related trends among LGBQ populations.