Infusing technology into perinatal home visitation in the united states for women experiencing intimate partner violence: Exploring the interpretive flexibility of an mHealth intervention

Loraine J. Bacchus, Linda Bullock, Phyllis Sharps, Camille Burnett, Donna L. Schminkey, Ana Maria Buller, Jacquelyn Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is common during pregnancy and the postpartum. Perinatal home visitation provides favorable conditions in which to identify and support women affected by IPV. However, the use of mHealth for delivering IPV interventions in perinatal home visiting has not been explored. Objective: Our objective was to conduct a nested qualitative interpretive study to explore perinatal home visitors' and women's perceptions and experiences of the Domestic Violence Enhanced Home Visitation Program (DOVE) using mHealth technology (ie, a computer tablet) or a home visitor-administered, paper-based method. Methods: We used purposive sampling, using maximum variation, to select women enrolled in a US-based randomized controlled trial of the DOVE intervention for semistructured interviews. Selection criteria were discussed with the trial research team and 32 women were invited to participate. We invited 45 home visitors at the 8 study sites to participate in an interview, along with the 2 DOVE program designers. Nonparticipant observations of home visits with trial participants who chose not to participate in semistructured interviews were undertaken. Results: We conducted 51 interviews with 26 women, 23 home visiting staff at rural and urban sites, and the 2 DOVE program designers. We conducted 4 nonparticipant observations. Among 18 IPV-positive women, 7 used the computer tablet and 11 used the home visitor method. Among 8 IPV-negative women, 7 used the home visitor method. The computer tablet was viewed as a safe and confidential way for abused women to disclose their experiences without fear of being judged. The meanings that the DOVE technology held for home visitors and women led to its construction as either an impersonal artifact that was an impediment to discussion of IPV or a conduit through which interpersonal connection could be deepened, thereby facilitating discussion about IPV. Women's and home visitors' comfort with either method of screening was positively influenced by factors such as having established trust and rapport, as well as good interpersonal communication. The technology helped reduce the anticipated stigma associated with disclosing abuse. The didactic intervention video was a limiting feature, as the content could not be tailored to accommodate the fluidity of women's circumstances. Conclusions: Users and developers of technology-based IPV interventions need to consider the context in which they are being embedded and the importance of the patient-provider relationship in promoting behavior change in order to realize the full benefits. An mHealth approach can and should be used as a tool for initiating discussion about IPV, assisting women in enhancing their safety and exploring help-seeking options. However, training for home visitors is required to ensure that a computer tablet is used to complement and enhance the therapeutic relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere302
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2016


  • Home visitation
  • Interpretive flexibility
  • Intervention
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Mhealth
  • Nurses
  • Screening
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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