Abstract: Factor Structure of the Masic Coercive Control Scale (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

404P Factor Structure of the Masic Coercive Control Scale

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Megan Petra, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH
Background and Purpose: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is generally considered to include violence/abuse and coercive control (CC), a pattern of control, threats, coercion, and surveillance by abusive partners.  While survivors report that CC is as traumatic as violence/abuse, CC is not illegal in the U.S.; furthermore, there is no consensus on how best to measure CC. The 14-item coercive control subscale of the Mediator’s Assessment of Safety Issues and Concerns (MASIC) is one possibility. A factor analysis of the entire MASIC suggested that CC questions form one factor, but this structure has not been corroborated and does not conform to CC theory. Another study is warranted. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to conduct an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) of the MASIC CC questions.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, a convenience sample 222 female spouses/partners of people with addictions were recruited from the community. Participants completed the survey online, including MASIC CC questions. An EFA was conducted in MPlus with data from the 214 participants who reported coercive control. The WLMSV estimator was used as it is appropriate for categorical indicators, with goemin rotation to allow for correlated factors. The factor structure was evaluated via Eigenvalues (>1 good), CFI/TLI (>.95 good), RMSEA, & SRMR (for both, <.05 good, <.08 acceptable). Items were assigned to factors based on highest factor loading, with minimum .40 loading required.

Results: The single-factor solution did not have a good fit. Fit indices for the two-factor solution were mixed (eigenvalues>1, CFI/TLI/SRMR good, RMSEA unacceptable). The three-factor solution also had mixed fit indices (CFI/TLI/SRMR good, RMSEA acceptable, factor 3 eigenvalue <1). The two- and three-factor solutions were examined for interpretability. The two-factor solution consisted of Control/Surveillance/Demand (6 items) and Threats (8 items) factors. The three-factor solution included Control/Surveillance/Demand (4 items + 2 overlapping); Demand/Threaten Via Hurting Loved Ones (3 items + 2 overlapping); and Threaten With Objects (5 items). CC theory posits that CC includes demands/control, threats, proof that threats will be carried out, and surveillance of the victim’s behavior. Although the three-factor solution is attractive in that it separates the abuser’s willingness to carry out threats (via hurting others) from threats to the victim, two items (Demand) load onto factors 1 and 2. These items are featured in CC theory so dropping them is inadvisable. Thus the two-facture solution is preferred, as items do not load onto multiple factors.

Conclusion and Implications: The CC subscale of the MASIC consists of at least two factors, though additional studies are needed to further confirm its factor structure & psychometrics. Social workers should screen for CC as well as violence/abuse. Since abusers may rarely use violence if CC tactics are successful in controlling the victim, simply screening for violence could fail to identify those needing help. The CC subscale of the MASIC is a promising CC screen in that it is brief, in the public domain, and measures all aspects of CC theory.