Rehabilitation professionals' practices on helping abused women with disabilities : a survey study
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Abuse is a serious and underreported problem that is prevalent among women with disabilities in the United States. Studies show that the percentage of women with disabilities who have been abused is approximately 62-67%; these women experience all kinds of abuse for significantly longer periods of time. Because rehabilitation professionals have been one of the primary service providers for people with disabilities, the purpose of this study was to investigate rehabilitation professionals' Practices on helping abused women, by surveying a cross-section of rehabilitation professionals to determine their knowledge of, self-assessment concerning, and opinions about helping female consumers with abuse issues. A sample of 183 male and female professionals working in the rehabilitation field was invited to complete an electronic 53-item questionnaire developed for this study. Participation was voluntary and anonymous. Demographic characteristics of the participants were used as independent variables and the total mean scores of measures of their abuse-related knowledge, opinions, and self-assessments were used as dependent variables. Three null hypotheses were addressed for this study: (1) there is no difference due to gender in subscale scores on the Rehabilitation Professionals' Practices on Helping Abused Women with Disabilities Scale (RPPHAWD); (2) there is no difference due to experience in subscale scores on the RPPHAWD; and (3) there is no difference due to certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC) status in subscale scores on the RPPHAWD. The hypotheses were tested using a 2 x 2 x 2 Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA), and three individual Univariate Analyses of Variance (ANOVAs) were run for each of the three subscales separately to determine where the significances may have occurred. Three principal findings resulted from the study: (1) gender was found to be statistically significant (p < .05) on subscales 1 and 3; (2) experience was not found to be statistically significant; and (3) certified rehabilitation counselor status as well as the two and three-way interactions were not found to be statistically significant. The findings may be useful in guiding policy makers and curriculum developers considering whether to include topics concerning the dynamics of violence in rehabilitation educational curricula. Such topics to be considered would include concepts and theories, history and characteristics, assessment, intervention, and prevention of abuse, with an emphasis on violence involving people with disabilities. A proposed rehabilitation education curriculum for the study of the abuse and maltreatment of people with disabilities is included in Chapter Five.