College Women’s Experience of Stalking: Mental Health Symptoms and Changes in Routines

BACKGROUND: Stalking is a serious public health and societal concern affecting many college women. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to explore college women's experiences of stalking. The specific aims were to compare victims and nonvictims on physical and mental health indicators and to identify lifestyle changes made in response to being stalked. METHODS: In this cross-sectional design, 601 women from two universities completed a stalking questionnaire, a mental health screening tool, and an injury checklist. Data analysis included frequencies, multivariate analysis of variance, analysis of variance, and chi(2) analysis. RESULTS: A quarter of the sample reported experiencing stalking, most often by an intimate or dating partner. Individuals who reported experiencing stalking reported significantly more mental health symptoms and lower perceived physical health status than individuals who did not. Victims reported changing routines, behaviors, and activities. CONCLUSIONS: Psychiatric nurses must be knowledgeable about stalking and its impact on health. Nurses can provide support, services, and community referrals.