Efficacy of a Web-Based Safety Decision Aid for Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence: Randomized Controlled Trial

J Med Internet Res. 2018 Jan 10;19(12):e426. doi: 10.2196/jmir.8617.


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a human rights violation and leading health burden for women. Safety planning is a hallmark of specialist family violence intervention, yet only a small proportion of women access formal services. A Web-based safety decision aid may reach a wide audience of women experiencing IPV and offer the opportunity to prioritize and plan for safety for themselves and their families.

Objective: The aim of this study was to test the efficacy of a Web-based safety decision aid (isafe) for women experiencing IPV.

Methods: We conducted a fully automated Web-based two-arm parallel randomized controlled trial (RCT) in a general population of New Zealand women who had experienced IPV in the past 6 months. Computer-generated randomization was based on a minimization scheme with stratification by severity of violence and children. Women were randomly assigned to the password-protected intervention website (safety priority setting, danger assessment, and tailored action plan components) or control website (standard, nonindividualized information). Primary endpoints were self-reported mental health (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale-Revised, CESD-R) and IPV exposure (Severity of Violence Against Women Scale, SVAWS) at 12-month follow-up. Analyses were by intention to treat.

Results: Women were recruited from September 2012 to September 2014. Participants were aged between 16 and 60 years, 27% (111/412) self-identified as Māori (indigenous New Zealand), and 51% (210/412) reported at baseline that they were unsure of their future plans for their partner relationship. Among the 412 women recruited, retention at 12 months was 87%. The adjusted estimated intervention effect for SVAWS was -12.44 (95% CI -23.35 to -1.54) for Māori and 0.76 (95% CI -5.57 to 7.09) for non-Māori. The adjusted intervention effect for CESD-R was -7.75 (95% CI -15.57 to 0.07) for Māori and 1.36 (-3.16 to 5.88) for non-Māori. No study-related adverse events were reported.

Conclusions: The interactive, individualized Web-based isafe decision aid was effective in reducing IPV exposure limited to indigenous Māori women. Discovery of a treatment effect in a population group that experiences significant health disparities is a welcome, important finding.

Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR): ACTRN12612000708853; https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?ACTRN=12612000708853 (Archived by Webcite at http://www.webcitation/61MGuVXdK).

Keywords: New Zealand; depression; eHealth; intimate partner violence; population groups; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Domestic Violence / prevention & control*
  • Domestic Violence / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Intimate Partner Violence / prevention & control*
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology*
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Young Adult