Social Work - Research Publications

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    An online healthy relationship tool and safety decision aid for women experiencing intimate partner violence (I-DECIDE): a randomised controlled trial
    Hegarty, K ; Tarzia, L ; Valpied, J ; Murray, E ; Humphreys, C ; Taft, A ; Novy, K ; Gold, L ; Glass, N (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2019-06-01)
    BACKGROUND: Evidence for online interventions to help women experiencing intimate partner violence is scarce. We assessed whether an online interactive healthy relationship tool and safety decision aid (I-DECIDE) would increase women's self-efficacy and improve depressive symptoms compared with an intimate partner violence information website. METHODS: In this two-group pragmatic randomised controlled trial, we enrolled women who had screened positive for any form of intimate partner violence or fear of a partner in the 6 months before recruitment. Women aged 16-50 years currently residing in Australia, who had safe access to a computer and an internet connection, and who answered positively to one of the screening questions in English were eligible for inclusion. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1) by computer to receive either the intervention or control website. The intervention website consisted of modules on healthy relationships, abuse and safety, and relationship priority setting, and a tailored action plan. The control website was a static intimate partner violence information website. As the initial portion of the website containing the baseline questions was identical for both groups, there was no way for women to tell which group they had been allocated to, and the research team were also masked to participant allocation until after analysis of the 12-month data. Data were collected at baseline, immediately after completion of the website, at 6 months, and 12 months. Primary outcomes were mean general self-efficacy score (immediately after website completion, and at 6 months and 12 months) and mean depression score (at 6 months and 12 months). Data analyses were done according to intention-to-treat principles, accounting for missing data, and adjusted for outcome baseline scores. This trial was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN 12614001306606. FINDINGS: Between Jan 16, and Aug 28, 2015, 584 patients registered for the study and were assessed for eligibility. 422 eligible participants were randomly allocated to the intervention group (227 patients) or control group (195 patients). 179 (79%) participants in the intervention group and 156 (80%) participants in the control group completed 12-month follow-up. Mean self-efficacy at 6 months and 12 months was lower for participants in the intervention group than for participants in the control group, although this did not meet the prespecified mean difference (6 months: 27·5 [SD 5·1] vs 28·1 [4·4], imputed mean difference 1·3 [95% CI 0·3 to 2·3]; 12 months: 27·8 [SD 5·4] vs 29·0 [5·0], imputed mean difference 1·6 [95% CI 0·5 to 2·7]). We found no difference between groups in depressive symptoms at 6 months or 12 months (6 months: 22·5 [SD 17·1] vs 24·2 [17·2], imputed mean difference -0·3 [95% CI -3·5 to 3·0]; 12 months: 21·9 [SD 19·3] vs 21·5 [19·3], imputed mean difference -1·9 [95% CI -5·6 to 1·7]). Qualitative findings indicated that participants found the intervention supportive and a motivation for action. INTERPRETATION: Our findings highlight the need for further research, development, and refinement of online interventions for women experiencing intimate partner violence, particularly into the duration needed for interventions. Although we detected no meaningful differences between groups, our qualitative results indicated that some women find an online tool a helpful source of motivation and support. FUNDING: Australian Research Council.
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    Enhanced maternal and child health nurse care for women experiencing intimate partner/family violence: protocol for MOVE, a cluster randomised trial of screening and referral in primary health care
    Taft, AJ ; Small, R ; Humphreys, C ; Hegarty, K ; Walter, R ; Adams, C ; Agius, P (BMC, 2012-09-20)
    BACKGROUND: Intimate partner violence (IPV) can result in significant harm to women and families and is especially prevalent when women are pregnant or recent mothers. Maternal and child health nurses (MCHN) in Victoria, Australia are community-based nurse/midwives who see over 95% of all mothers with newborns. MCHN are in an ideal position to identify and support women experiencing IPV, or refer them to specialist family violence services. Evidence for IPV screening in primary health care is inconclusive to date. The Victorian government recently required nurses to screen all mothers when babies are four weeks old, offering an opportunity to examine the effectiveness of MCHN IPV screening practices. This protocol describes the development and design of MOVE, a study to examine IPV screening effectiveness and the sustainability of screening practice. METHODS/DESIGN: MOVE is a cluster randomised trial of a good practice model of MCHN IPV screening involving eight maternal and child health nurse teams in Melbourne, Victoria. Normalisation Process Theory (NPT) was incorporated into the design, implementation and evaluation of the MOVE trial to enhance and evaluate sustainability. Using NPT, the development stage combined participatory action research with intervention nurse teams and a systematic review of nurse IPV studies to develop an intervention model incorporating consensus guidelines, clinical pathway and strategies for individual nurses, their teams and family violence services. Following twelve months' implementation, primary outcomes assessed include IPV inquiry, IPV disclosure by women and referral using data from MCHN routine data collection and a survey to all women giving birth in the previous eight months. IPV will be measured using the Composite Abuse Scale. Process and impact evaluation data (online surveys and key stakeholders interviews) will highlight NPT concepts to enhance sustainability of IPV identification and referral. Data will be collected again in two years. DISCUSSION: MOVE will be the first randomised trial to determine IPV screening effectiveness in a community based nurse setting and the first to examine sustainability of an IPV screening intervention. It will further inform the debate about the effectiveness of IPV screening and describe IPV prevalence in a community based post-partum and early infant population. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ACTRN12609000424202.
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    Applying normalization process theory to understand implementation of a family violence screening and care model in maternal and child health nursing practice: a mixed method process evaluation of a randomised controlled trial
    Hooker, L ; Small, R ; Humphreys, C ; Hegarty, K ; Taft, A (BMC, 2015-03-28)
    BACKGROUND: In Victoria, Australia, Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services deliver primary health care to families with children 0-6 years, focusing on health promotion, parenting support and early intervention. Family violence (FV) has been identified as a major public health concern, with increased prevalence in the child-bearing years. Victorian Government policy recommends routine FV screening of all women attending MCH services. Using Normalization Process Theory (NPT), we aimed to understand the barriers and facilitators of implementing an enhanced screening model into MCH nurse clinical practice. METHODS: NPT informed the process evaluation of a pragmatic, cluster randomised controlled trial in eight MCH nurse teams in metropolitan Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Using mixed methods (surveys and interviews), we explored the views of MCH nurses, MCH nurse team leaders, FV liaison workers and FV managers on implementation of the model. Quantitative data were analysed by comparing proportionate group differences and change within trial arm over time between interim and impact nurse surveys. Qualitative data were inductively coded, thematically analysed and mapped to NPT constructs (coherence, cognitive participation, collective action and reflexive monitoring) to enhance our understanding of the outcome evaluation. RESULTS: MCH nurse participation rates for interim and impact surveys were 79% (127/160) and 71% (114/160), respectively. Twenty-three key stakeholder interviews were completed. FV screening work was meaningful and valued by participants; however, the implementation coincided with a significant (government directed) change in clinical practice which impacted on full engagement with the model (coherence and cognitive participation). The use of MCH nurse-designed FV screening/management tools in focussed women's health consultations and links with FV services enhanced the participants' work (collective action). Monitoring of FV work (reflexive monitoring) was limited. CONCLUSIONS: The use of theory-based process evaluation helped identify both what inhibited and enhanced intervention effectiveness. Successful implementation of an enhanced FV screening model for MCH nurses occurred in the context of focussed women's health consultations, with the use of a maternal health and wellbeing checklist and greater collaboration with FV services. Improving links with these services and the ongoing appraisal of nurse work would overcome the barriers identified in this study.
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    Maternal and child health nurse screening and care for mothers experiencing domestic violence (MOVE): a cluster randomised trial
    Taft, AJ ; Hooker, L ; Humphreys, C ; Hegarty, K ; Walter, R ; Adams, C ; Agius, P ; Small, R (BMC, 2015-06-25)
    BACKGROUND: Mothers are at risk of domestic violence (DV) and its harmful consequences postpartum. There is no evidence to date for sustainability of DV screening in primary care settings. We aimed to test whether a theory-informed, maternal and child health (MCH) nurse-designed model increased and sustained DV screening, disclosure, safety planning and referrals compared with usual care. METHODS: Cluster randomised controlled trial of 12 month MCH DV screening and care intervention with 24 month follow-up. The study was set in community-based MCH nurse teams (91 centres, 163 nurses) in north-west Melbourne, Australia. Eight eligible teams were recruited. Team randomisation occurred at a public meeting using opaque envelopes. Teams were unable to be blinded. The intervention was informed by Normalisation Process Theory, the nurse-designed good practice model incorporated nurse mentors, strengthened relationships with DV services, nurse safety, a self-completion maternal health screening checklist at three or four month consultations and DV clinical guidelines. Usual care involved government mandated face-to-face DV screening at four weeks postpartum and follow-up as required. Primary outcomes were MCH team screening, disclosure, safety planning and referral rates from routine government data and a postal survey sent to 10,472 women with babies ≤ 12 months in study areas. Secondary outcomes included DV prevalence (Composite Abuse Scale, CAS) and harm measures (postal survey). RESULTS: No significant differences were found in routine screening at four months (IG 2,330/6,381 consultations (36.5 %) versus CG 1,792/7,638 consultations (23.5 %), RR = 1.56 CI 0.96-2.52) but data from maternal health checklists (n = 2,771) at three month IG consultations showed average screening rates of 63.1 %. Two years post-intervention, IG safety planning rates had increased from three (RR 2.95, CI 1.11-7.82) to four times those of CG (RR 4.22 CI 1.64-10.9). Referrals remained low in both intervention groups (IGs) and comparison groups (CGs) (<1 %). 2,621/10,472 mothers (25 %) returned surveys. No difference was found between arms in preference or comfort with being asked about DV or feelings about self. CONCLUSION: A nurse-designed screening and care model did not increase routine screening or referrals, but achieved significantly increased safety planning over 36 months among postpartum women. Self-completion DV screening was welcomed by nurses and women and contributed to sustainability. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12609000424202, 10/03/2009.
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    Protocol for a randomised controlled trial of a web-based healthy relationship tool and safety decision aid for women experiencing domestic violence (I-DECIDE)
    Hegarty, K ; TARZIA, L ; Murray, E ; Valpied, J ; Humphreys, C ; Taft, A ; Gold, L ; Glass, N (BioMed Central, 2015-08-01)
    Background: Domestic violence is a serious problem affecting the health and wellbeing of women globally. Interventions in health care settings have primarily focused on screening and referral, however, women often may not disclose abuse to health practitioners. The internet offers a confidential space in which women can assess the health of their relationships and make a plan for safety and wellbeing for themselves and their children. This randomised controlled trial is testing the effectiveness of a web-based healthy relationship tool and safety decision aid (I-DECIDE). Based broadly on the IRIS trial in the United States, it has been adapted for the Australian context where it is conducted entirely online and uses the Psychosocial Readiness Model as the basis for the intervention. Methods/design: In this two arm, pragmatic randomised controlled trial, women who have experienced abuse or fear of a partner in the previous 6 months will be computer randomised to receive either the I-DECIDE website or a comparator website (basic relationship and safety advice). The intervention includes self-directed reflection exercises on their relationship, danger level, priority setting, and results in an individualised, tailored action plan. Primary self-reported outcomes are: self-efficacy (General Self-Efficacy Scale) immediately after completion, 6 and 12 months post-baseline; and depressive symptoms (Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, Revised, 6 and 12 months post-baseline). Secondary outcomes include mean number of helpful actions for safety and wellbeing, mean level of fear of partner and cost-effectiveness. Discussion: This fully-automated trial will evaluate a web-based self-information, self-reflection and self-management tool for domestic violence. We hypothesise that the improvement in self-efficacy and mental health will be mediated by increased perceived support and awareness encouraging positive change. If shown to be effective, I-DECIDE could be easily incorporated into the community sector and health care settings, providing an alternative to formal services for women not ready or able to acknowledge abuse and access specialised services.