Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 219–225 | Cite as

Epidemiological Considerations in the Conceptualization and Utilization of “Prevalence” and “Incidence Rate” in Family Violence Research: A Reply to Brownridge and Halli (1999)

  • Sonia HélieEmail author
  • Marie-Eve Clément
  • Marie-Claude Larrivée


Brownridge and Halli (1999) have argued that the literature on family violence is beset by confusion in the conceptualization and utilization of incidence and prevalence terminology. Although we basically agree with the authors' diagnosis of the field, definitions of prevalence and incidence that they propose as gold standards are sometimes discrepant with established concepts in epidemiology. Drawing on the epidemiologic literature, we present more solidly based and operational definitions of these terms and try to understand the meaning of each measure. The same confusion surrounding use of prevalence and incidence also reigns in child maltreatment research, as revealed in our review of major studies. We address some of the main but often overlooked issues associated with use of epidemiologic measures in an area of social research such as family violence and make some proposals.

measurement family violence incidence prevalence epidemiology child maltreatment 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonia Hélie
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marie-Eve Clément
    • 1
  • Marie-Claude Larrivée
    • 1
  1. 1.Groupe de Recherche et d'Action sur la Victimisation des EnfantsUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada

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