Couples' communication behaviors as predictors of dropout and treatment response in wife abuse treatment programs

Richard E. Heyman, Pamela D. Brown, Shari R. Feldbau-Kohn, K. Daniel O'Leary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Sixty couples entering a treatment program for husband-to-wife physical aggression were videotaped during a marital conflict task. Positive treatment response was significantly predicted by low levels of husbands' reciprocity of wives' hostility, accounting for approximately one-quarter of the variance. Poor treatment response, but increased treatment completion, was significantly predicted by (a) high frequency of husbands' distress- maintaining attributions and (b) low likelihood of husbands' hostility following wives' self-disclosures. Husbands' communication variables correctly predicted completion in about three-fourths of cases. Communication variables predicted dropout and treatment response over and above the effects of marital adjustment and husbands' psychological abuse. Wives' communication behaviors predicted dropout but not husbands' continued aggression. These results imply that preexisting marital processes may give important clues as to who will be responsive to treatment for partner abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-189
Number of pages25
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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