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Nurse Researcher Receives $3.5 Million to Study Intimate Partner Violence

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Posted: 2/24/2006

A new National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) grant awarded to Phyllis Sharps, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Professor and Director of the Master's Programs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing will fund studies to help pregnant women and their infants who are at risk for intimate partner violence. 

As the principal investigator, Sharps will direct the $3.5 million five-year study with co-investigators Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, and Linda Bullock, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Professor at the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The team will study the effectiveness of the Domestic Violence Enhanced Home Visitation (DOVE) intervention, a technique where nurses provide information to new and expecting mothers at risk for intimate partner violence.  The intervention aims to increase the mothers' awareness of their options and allows them to decide which options seem most useful.  Nurses offer written information about the cycle of intimate partner violence, risk factors that may increase a woman's danger of homicide, options for leaving an abusive partner, safety planning, and specific local and national phone numbers for more resources. 

The clinical trial will enroll 360 families in three distinct settings--urban Baltimore City, MD; urban Kansas City, MO; and rural Missouri.  Half of the families will be randomly assigned to receive the DOVE intervention, and the control group will receive the usual care provided by each locality's health department.  Both groups will be assessed at the birth of their child and then again at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months later.  The new mothers will be monitored for a history of intimate partner violence, their current level of danger of such violence, adopted safety behaviors, resources used, mental health, and parenting knowledge and skills.  Children will be examined for physical and mental development and health problems, including injury.

According to Sharps, "This innovative intervention has the potential to improve the health of a significant number of women who experience intimate partner violence during pregnancy."  She adds that the study "could go a long way towards helping the 3-10 million children who witness this violence each year."

Sharps, Campbell, and Bullock are working with a research team that includes Michelle Cooley, PhD, MEd, Linda C. Pugh, PhD, RNC, FAAN, and Linda Rose, PhD, RN of the Johns Hopkins University; David Olds, PhD of the University of Colorado; Barbara Parker, PhD, RN, FAAN of the University of Virginia; and Karen Soeken, PhD of the University of Maryland. The project is a collaborative effort between the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri, and the health departments in Baltimore, MD; Kansas City, MO; and rural Missouri.