Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Nursing (Nursing)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Rosa R. Gonzalez-Guarda

Second Committee Member

Jessica R. Williams

Third Committee Member

Brian E. McCabe

Fourth Committee Member

Clyde McCoy


Although intimate partner violence (IPV) is a worldwide public health issue affecting millions of people, adolescents and young adults are disproportionally affected. IPV is a complex problem primarily because it is influenced by a web of risks and protective factors, which interact and shape the experiences of each person. However, the exact nature of these interactions is not well understood, particularly among adolescents and young adults and in cultures where gender norms are rapidly changing and less IPV research has been conducted, such as in Costa Rica. Specifically, little is known about the effect of sociocultural factors on the experiences of IPV among this population. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to assess and explain the attitudes toward IPV among college students in Costa Rica. A convenience sample of undergraduate college students recruited from a Costa Rican public university completed an electronic self-report survey (N=249). Students reported their attitudes toward IPV, gender norms, partnership stereotypes, level of religious commitment, and parents’ background. Data was analyzed using structural equation modeling. A sub sample of the survey participants (n=29) also participated in four focus group interviews with five to eight attendees in each; groups were organized by gender (i.e., two-female groups and two-male groups). Data was transcribed and analyzed in Spanish to preserve the authenticity of the data. Conventional qualitative analysis was used to analyze the focus group data. Although all the proposed variables were not significantly associated with attitudes toward IPV except partnership stereotypes, IPV attitudes were significantly associated with gender, marital status, religious attendance, and parents’ marital status. In addition, path analysis results indicated that area of origin was significantly linked to partnership stereotypes, while parents’ background was significantly related to religious commitment. Furthermore, three major themes emerged from the qualitative data: (a) “although IPV goes unnoticed, it goes to college”, (b) multiple societal factors play a role in IPV, and (c) college students are the company they keep. Indeed, these themes map the complex nature of IPV in Costa Rica from the social elements surrounding the problem to perceived recommendations about how to address the issue. Quantitative and qualitative results were integrated to address the study purpose. Integration of the findings elucidates how attitudes toward IPV in Costa Rica are shaped through the interaction of multilevel sociocultural factors. Implications of the study and recommendations for research, practice, and policy are discussed.


intimate partner violence, Costa Rica, college students, dating violence