Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in our society that impacts women and their families as well as the multiple social institutions and agencies that must grapple with its effects: Child Welfare, Mental Health, Law Enforcement, and Domestic Violence. Women who are abused are likely to find themselves in a pattern of revictimization, endangering not just themselves but their children as well. The Polaris DV-MH system will help providers'better coordinate their treatment strategies as they work with women and their families to establish a safe home, improve well-being, and reduce the risk of revictimization. Polaris DV-MH is a computer-supported assessment system designed to address long-term mental health and functioning issues that are a result of exposure to trauma. The system is intended for use by domestic violence agencies and other providers who treat abused women. It will enable interagency treatment team members (from physicians to legal advocates to child welfare and domestic violence case workers) to access case information useful in monitoring recovery from co-morbid mental health problems and abuse. Women will complete assessments on the Internet using HIPAA compliant software;once finished, a clinical report is automatically generated for immediate use in the treatment process. Polaris DV-MH reports are used to improve the detection of prior abuse, co-morbid mental health problems, and a woman's compensating strengths that move her and her family towards improved resilience. It will improve the ability for all agencies to detect factors associated with revictimization as well as the subtle changes in relational schema that will help the woman avoid revictimization in future relationships. Polaris DV-MH will contribute to the safety and well-being of women and their children by the assessment of mental health co-morbidity as well as relational schema associated with future revictimization. The Phase II specific aims are to: (1) enhance the DV-MH Update Report to include indicators associated with revictimization;2) modify software to administer update assessments in English and Spanish;(3) build an algorithm to detect inauthentic responses in abused women, (4) develop predictive models for revictimization, (5) develop automated aggregate data access and reports, (6) write implementation and system documentation and (7) generate web-accessible provider training materials.

Public Health Relevance

Polaris DV-MH will contribute to the safety and well-being of women and their children by the assessment of mental health co-morbidity as well as relational schema associated with future revictimization. Polaris DV-MH will provide multi-agency domestic violence professionals with reports documenting progress in changing high- risk attitudes, behaviors, and the relational schema to self and others that put a woman and her children at further risk for violence. It will also provide treatment teams with information relating to co-morbid mental health conditions that impact the woman's rate of recovery from abuse as well as information about her readiness to change relational patterns. It will improve the quality and coordination of services provided by providers seeking to support women in their long-term recovery from abuse, to develop compensating resources to effectively care for themselves and any children who are also dealing with the impact of abuse. Key components of Polaris DV-MH include: (1) focusing on the common cross-agency goal of preventing revictimization;(2) streamlining interagency communication;and (3) emphasizing women's empowerment and resilience from abuse. Polaris DV-MH is designed to support domestic violence professionals as they: (1) decide if mental health intervention is warranted;(2) decide if the woman is in immediate danger from the abuser;(3) assess the woman's strengths that may be useful in treatment planning;(4) assess factors related to victimization to provide appropriate levels of protection to the woman and family;(5) coordinate with multiple agencies to ensure effective communication;(6) support legal procedures to successfully hold the batterer accountable by documenting severity and impact of abuse;and (7) monitor and document progress towards long-term recovery.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-P (11))
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Newcomer, Susan
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Polaris Health Directions, Inc.
United States
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