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Nursing Research and Practice
Volume 2012, Article ID 738905, 10 pages
Research Article

Rethinking Social Support and Conflict: Lessons from a Study of Women Who Have Separated from Abusive Partners

1School of Nursing, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada M5B 2K3
2Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing and Department of Family Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, London, ON, Canada N6A 3C1
3School of Nursing, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada M3I 1P3
4School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 2B5
5Department of Epidemiology and Pediatrics, Children's Health Research Institute, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, London, ON, Canada N6A 3C1
6Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada E3B 5A3

Received 25 February 2012; Revised 14 June 2012; Accepted 5 July 2012

Academic Editor: Patricia M. Davidson

Copyright © 2012 Sepali Guruge et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Relationships have both positive and negative dimensions, yet most research in the area of intimate partner violence (IPV) has focused on social support, and not on social conflict. Based on the data from 309 English-speaking Canadian women who experienced IPV in the past 3 years and were no longer living with the abuser, we tested four hypotheses examining the relationships among severity of past IPV and women’s social support, social conflict, and health. We found that the severity of past IPV exerted direct negative effects on women’s health. Similarly, both social support and social conflict directly influenced women’s health. Social conflict, but not social support, mediated the relationships between IPV severity and health. Finally, social conflict moderated the relationships between social support and women’s health, such that the positive effects of social support were attenuated in the presence of high levels of social conflict. These findings highlight that routine assessments of social support and social conflict and the use of strategies to help women enhance support and reduce conflict in their relationships are essential aspects of nursing care.