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Methodological issues in the study of violence against women
  1. Isabel Ruiz-Pérez1,
  2. Juncal Plazaola-Castaño1,
  3. Carmen Vives-Cases2
  1. 1
    Andalusian School of Public Health, Granada, Spain
  2. 2
    University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain
  1. Isabel Ruiz-Pérez, Andalusian School of Public Health, Campus Universitario de Cartuja, Cuesta del Observatorio 4, 18080 Granada, Spain; isabel.ruiz.easp{at}


The objective of this paper is to review the methodological issues that arise when studying violence against women as a public health problem, focusing on intimate partner violence (IPV), since this is the form of violence that has the greatest consequences at a social and political level. The paper focuses first on the problems of defining what is meant by IPV. Secondly, the paper describes the difficulties in assessing the magnitude of the problem. Obtaining reliable data on this type of violence is a complex task, because of the methodological issues derived from the very nature of the phenomenon, such as the private, intimate context in which this violence often takes place, which means the problem cannot be directly observed. Finally, the paper examines the limitations and bias in research on violence, including the lack of consensus with regard to measuring events that may or may not represent a risk factor for violence against women or the methodological problem related to the type of sampling used in both aetiological and prevalence studies.

  • women
  • domestic violence
  • spouse abuse
  • public health
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  • Abbreviations:
    abusive behaviour inventory
    conflict tactics scales
    intimate partner violence

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