Escaping Poverty: The Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on Intimate Partner Violence
Last registered on December 15, 2018


Trial Information
General Information
Escaping Poverty: The Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on Intimate Partner Violence
Initial registration date
December 09, 2018
Last updated
December 15, 2018 8:07 PM EST

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Primary Investigator
Northwestern University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Ghana
PI Affiliation
Yale University
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics and Political Science
PI Affiliation
The World Bank
PI Affiliation
Northwestern University
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) study investigates whether a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program designed set in a developing country without violence-reduction specifically in mind can still effectively decrease the prevalence of intimate partner violence. The primary purpose of the study is to evaluate whether CBT impacts different types of IPV outcomes and, if so, whether the effects differ depending on if the recipient of the CBT treatment is male or female. A secondary purpose of the study is to evaluate whether CBT has any spillover effects on IPV outcomes within households that lived in treatment communities but did not themselves receive CBT.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Barker, Nathan et al. 2018. "Escaping Poverty: The Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on Intimate Partner Violence." AEA RCT Registry. December 15.
Experimental Details
The Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) study is part of a larger project set in Ghana called Escaping Poverty, which analyzes the impact of various treatment packages (this type of program is known as a "graduation" approach). The main treatment we examine in this study is group-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The CBT was conducted over the course of a 12-week program administered throughout treatment villages in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Northern, and Upper East regions of Ghana. CBT programs in general are built on the premise that individuals have automatic responses to situations they confront, and that these automatic responses can be productive or unproductive. The curriculum therefore aimed to help individuals identify negative thought distortions and modify beliefs accordingly. Due to a scarcity of highly-skilled psychologists in Ghana, CBT counselors were typically recent graduates from university, and in some but not all cases studied psychology. They received two weeks of training prior to beginning the CBT program. Thus, the findings from this study could have significant policy implications for the cost-effectiveness and scalability of delivering CBT in other developing countries where similar skill constraints exist.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Child Discipline Index, Controlling Behaviors Index, Emotional Abuse Index, Physical Abuse Index, Sexual Abuse Index
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Each primary outcome will be constructed as a standardized index using the following procedure: we will standardize each component variable to the control group, take the average of the components, and then standardize the aggregated measure. For a more detailed explanation of the methodology used to construct the indices, please refer to the pre-analysis plan.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Attitudes Toward Beating Index, Attitudes Toward Gender Roles Index, Male Partner's Self-Control Score, Male Partner's Economic Contributions to the Household
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
The attitudes indices will be calculated using the same procedure as for the primary outcomes. The self-control score will be computed using the procedure outlined in Tangney et al (2004); we will calculate the sum of all the self-control questions and then standardize the total score to the control group. The economic measure will be calculated as a simple sum of the amount of basic expense money and the amount of chop money shared by the male partner.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
As part of the Escaping Poverty study, participants were randomized at the community level into one of four experimental conditions:

- Pure control
- Treatment - CBT only
- Treatment - GUP
- Treatment - Heifer

The second stage of randomization assigned households in the three treatment categories to various sub-treatment categories, a subset of which received CBT. In the IPV study, we examine only the impact of CBT and therefore control for all other cross-cutting treatment arms.

To mitigate concerns surrounding mixed-gender CBT groups, we randomized all treatment communities to offer either female-only or male-only CBT programs. Subsequently, households with an individual (either the household head or his/her spouse) of the CBT-assigned gender were randomly assigned to receive CBT. Households without a member of the assigned gender were excluded from the CBT treatment e.g., a single mother living in a community assigned to male-only CBT.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
We performed a computerized randomization.
Randomization Unit
Since we used a two-stage randomization design, pure control communities are randomized at the village level and all other groups are randomized at the household level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
4,916 households, 97 communities (5,013 clusters total)
Sample size: planned number of observations
6,823 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
4,897 households control, 1,302 households treatment (6,199 households total)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Prior to conducting the survey, we ran some power calculations with power of 0.8 and alpha of 0.05. By restricting our sample to pure control communities and communities that had been assigned male CBT groups and comparing households that received CBT to households that did not, we obtained an MDE of 0.110.
IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number