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The effect of television news items on intimate partner violence murders

C. Vives-Cases, J. Torrubiano-Domínguez, C. Álvarez-Dardet
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckp086 ckp086 First published online: 23 June 2009


Background: This study has been carried out in order to explore the effect of the growing appearance of IPV in television news items on deaths by this cause. Methods: Ecological study based on 340 deaths by intimate partner violence (IPV) and 3733 television news items covering this topic on Spanish television channels (2003 and 2007). Logistic regression analysis was carried out. Dependent variable: the difference between the number of IPV deaths in the 7 days following a news item broadcast and the number of IPV deaths in the 7 days before a media item. This outcome variable was conceptualised as a binary variable: increase vs. no increase. Independent variables: days with IPV news items—in general, concerning deaths, measures or other IPV crimes. Adjusted variables: day of the week, month, year and public holidays. Results: A small copycat effect was observed in the IPV murder rate (RR = 1.32, CI95% = 1.07 − 1.62) for IPV-related news item days compared with days without such news. This effect continued when information about deaths was broadcast (RR = 1.28, CI95% = 1.01 − 1.62). News items concerning measures (RR = 0.90, CI95% = 0.82 − 0.98) or other IPV crimes (0.84, CI95% = 0.82 − 0.98) were related to a lower possibility of an increase in deaths compared with days with death-related news. Conclusion: Given the results observed in the case of IPV-related news, there is an evident need to develop a journalistic style guide in order to determine what type of information is recommended due to the potential positive or negative effects.

  • battered women
  • copycat
  • femicide
  • mass media.
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