Resource Guide
Chicago Women's Health Risk Study

About the Chicago Women's Health Risk Study (ICPSR 3002)

The Chicago Women's Health Risk Study (CWHRS) distributed by ICPSR is a complex study consisting of 15 data files. To learn more about this study read the ICPSR study description.

To help users better understand this data collection, Dr. Carolyn Rebecca Block, the principal investigator for this study, has agreed to post Frequently Asked Questions on our website. Please note that the answers to the questions are provided by Dr. Block, and not by NACJD staff.

Please contact Dr. Block if you have other questions about the study or if you would like further clarification of the answers provided on this Web page. Before submitting new questions, please read all of the questions and answers on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: I am having trouble interpreting some of the results in the National Institute of Justice Final Report. For example, in Exhibit 65 (page 148), you have findings from the HARASS scale. I understand what the "yes" responses mean - for instance, with the African American women, 90.6% of those who responded "yes" to "showed up without warning" identified themselves as abused women (AW.) But what does the "no" group mean? 52% of women who responded "no" (he doesn't show up without warning) are AW? If my interpretation is correct, this doesn't seem as useful as simply comparing responses from AW versus non-abused women (NAW).

    A:  Your interpretation is correct, and you are right that the "percents" could be run either way. I had to make a choice, or the report would have been twice as long and twice as complex. Also, I decided that it would be confusing to go back and forth from one kind of percent to the other. There are good arguments for both ways, but I ended up deciding to do the percents the way they appear. In other reports, of course, we can calculate percents the other way.

    In Exhibit 65, for example, I think that it is interesting that half of the women who said that their intimate partner had never "showed up without warning" in the past year interviewed as AW, though over 90% of the women who said that the intimate partner had "showed up without warning" interviewed as AW. From the point of view of "risk factors for serious violence or death," this tells us that the great majority of women who are experiencing this kind of harassment are also currently experiencing physical violence. But, on the other hand, half of the women who are not experiencing this harassing behavior are also experiencing physical violence. Therefore, if we used this question as our only risk factor, we would be in danger of missing a lot of women who are experiencing violence. That's important to know.

    But you are right. It is also useful and interesting to look at it the other way. In this case, 68% of the 339 African/American/Black women who had interviewed as AW said that Name had "showed up without warning" in the previous year, compared to only 19% of the 125 African/American/Black women who had interviewed as NAW (chi square p > .0001; Gamma = .800, p < .0001). That tells us that many women (almost a fifth) who are not currently experiencing physical violence from their partner (or who did not tell the interviewer about it) still are experiencing this harassing behavior from a partner. This relates to our other findings that a considerable proportion of women homicide victims had not experienced a prior violent incident from the partner who killed them. We need to be aware of the risk factors for a first, explosive incident. Power and Control, stalking and harassment behavior can be such a risk factor.

    So, we should look at things both ways, depending on the question we're asking.

  2. Q:  Was prior choking a risk factor for all intimate partner homicide victimization or for choking/strangulation death specifically?

    A:  More of the women who were choked to death had experienced a non-lethal choking incident in the past year, compared to other women victims and compared to clinic/hospital abused women.

    Also, none of the non-lethal choking incidents involved a weapon (e.g., belt, scarf, cord) in the choking, but several of the lethal incidents did.

  3. Q:  Are the data from police homicide records and the data with interviews with people close to those who were murdered available in the archive?

    A:  Yes, all both the police and the interview data for homicide cases are available from the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data under ICPSR study number 3002. The official records data are Part 13 of the data collection and the proxy interview data are in Parts 14 and 15.

  4. Q:  In the police records data for the homicide incidents, were you able to look at open cases or just closed cases?

    A:  Our sample included all homicide cases meeting the study criteria, whether they were open or closed. We followed open cases through the court, and some of them had a final disposition during the data collection phase of the study.

  5. Q:  Have you published anything from just the police records or from the interviews you did with the family/associates of the women who were murdered?

    A:  Almost everything we have published so far has included information from both the clinic/hospital cases and the homicide cases. About 150 pages of the Final Report to NIJ are devoted to the homicide cases. Some publications, such as the "Proxy Methods" article and the "Types of Homicide" article, focus solely on the homicide cases.

    If you are looking at the homicide data, you would be particularly interested in the "Proxy Method" article in Homicide Studies. References for CWHRS publications are in the "Project at a Glance," and on the Authority website at

  6. Q:  For the police records data, did you examine files or use police summary data? If you examined files, were they quite detailed?

    A:  We did not examine complete police investigation files. We used the summary information in the Murder Analysis Reports. Of course, we had a lot of added information from other official records. The official record data include not only police data (the Chicago Homicide Dataset), but medical examiner's office data, court records, newspapers, and other sources. This is explained in all of the CWHRS publications, briefly in the "Project at a Glance," in great detail in the 350-page Final Report to NIJ, and summarized in the other publications. It is also explained in the archive documentation.

  7. Q:  Does this study contain information on child witnesses to homicide?

    A:  The proxy interview data (Parts 14 and 15 of ICPSR 3002) contain information on all of the 87 intimate partner homicides involving a woman as a victim or offender in Chicago in 1995 or 1996. These data also contain information about the children who witnessed the homicides. For example, many of them received no counseling afterwards.

  8. Q:  What was the followup time period in the CWHRS?

    A:  We tried to contact everyone at six months and again at 12 months. However, the actual followup periods varied from woman to woman. This doesn't matter, because the Calendar Histories for each woman start at the date of the previous interview and go to the date of the followup interview. Therefore, it is misleading to call them "6 month" or "12 month" follow-ups.

The link below will search the ICPSR citations database for citations of publications about the CWHRS data collection. Users can create their own searches or browse the citations database through our Publications Bibliography.

Search for CWHRS Publications

Contact Information for Principal Investigator

Carolyn Rebecca Block, PhD
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
120 South Riverside Plaza
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 793-8645
FAX: (312) 793-8422