Social Network Characteristics and Violent Behavior Among Dually Diagnosed Women in a Rural Jail Diversion Program: A Pilot Study

Jack E. Scott, University of Maryland at Baltimore

While there is much concern about the potential for violent behavior on the part of severely mentally ill individuals within the community, much of our current information base is derived from studies that have focused on men. There is a need for more information about women with severe mental illnesses, their risks for violent behavior and victimization, and the factors that drive these. One important set of factors is the characteristics of social networks, particularly the involvement of individuals with active alcohol and drug use, as well as the protective role that the presence of abstinent or recovering individuals may play. This pilot study presents data from a longitudinal study of 30 women with severe mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders who have been participating in a rural jail diversion program. The women were re-interviewed at three-month intervals for nine months. We collected data on the structural and functional characteristics of their social networks (including changes in the networks) as well as information on involvement in violent behavior via a modified version of the MacArthur Community Violence instrument. These data are used to examine how changes in network structure and composition affect changes in exposure to violence.

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Updated 05/20/2006