Clinical perception: A study of intimate partner violence versus methamphetamine use as presenting problems

Holly Fussell, Janice Haaken, Colleen S. Lewy, Bentson H. McFarland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study draws on theory by Solomon Asch (1946, 1952) to examine how presenting with intimate partner violence versus methamphetamine use shapes characteristics of substance abuse assessment interviews. When responding to an initial open-ended question from a substance abuse counselor, the methamphetamine user and intimate partner violence survivor may elicit very different reactions from the counselor. We predicted that these differing presenting problems would initiate different trajectories for overall impression formation. To test this hypothesis, 18 substance abuse practitioners interviewed one standardized patient (an actor portraying a substance abuse client) who alternated her presenting problem between a) violence in a domestic setting and b) methamphetamine use. The remainder of her story was identical for counselors in either presenting problem group. Results included differences between the two groups in median length of the interviews and failure of both groups to explore domestic violence as a cooccurring problem. Clinical practices related to substance abuse counseling and intimate partner violence are discussed in light of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-392
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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