Health Services Research
Every year thousands of women experience intimate partner violence (IPV), receiving injuries such as battery to the face, head, and neck, a pattern of violence potentially causing permanent traumatic brain injury (TBI). While the connection between TBI and IPV remains largely unexplored, early investigation has identified elevated TBI rates (30-74%) in women survivors of IPV. Research addressing the identification and support of women survivors of IPV with resultant TBI is extremely limited worldwide. Further investigation has been recognized as a priority, however, very little has been done to examine this unique condition and the implications for support providers such as community based agencies focused on housing, healthcare, and legal services. Our objective was to address knowledge and support gaps identified in our previous study, the current literature, and by our community partners in an effort to improve the wellbeing of brain injured women survivors of IPV. The project’s goal was to develop, implement, and evaluate a TBI toolkit for front line workers serving women survivors of IPV. This research has direct implications for service provision for women exposed to IPV with resultant TBI. It also provides recommendations for further research agendas and highlights the need for broader educational campaigns with targeted audiences.
Objective : Address previously identified knowledge and support gaps through the development, implementation, and evaluation of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) toolkit for frontline workers in intimate partner violence (IPV) settings.
Design : Two sequential projects: one exploring knowledge and service gaps, and the second to develop an intervention to address those gaps. Mixed methods incorporating online survey, focus groups, and semi-structured interviews.
Setting : Community-based, participatory research model with data collection taking place in community settings, online surveys, hosted workshops, and professional conferences. All community settings provide direct service to women survivors of IPV.
Participants (or Animals, Specimens, Cadavers) : A convenience sample of key stakeholders including frontline workers, executive directors, and program managers in the IPV sector, women survivors of IPV, and advocacy organizations. 68 IPV service agencies were invited to complete an online survey, 22 stakeholders attended a one-day workshop, 49 participated in focus groups or interviews, and 13 provided feedback mid-design.
Interventions : Based on identified gaps and stakeholder input, a TBI educational online toolkit was developed to support frontline workers in the IPV sector. The toolkit was tested in two locations across Canada for four months.
Main Outcome Measure(s) : Pre and post-test surveys were conducted with frontline staff members. Exit interviews were conducted with frontline workers post-test.
Results : Results highlighted a lack of TBI awareness and understanding among IPV service providers. Participants stated frontline workers and women survivors of IPV do not recognize signs or symptoms of TBI. Initial response to the online toolkit has been positive and frontline workers report increased confidence working with IPV-related TBI.
Conclusions : The identified lack of TBI knowledge among IPV service providers highlights the need to increase education. The toolkit directly addresses this, increasing TBI awareness and worker confidence in this area.