Can tablets help nurses better screen for domestic abuse?

By Brian Dolan
03:31 am
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iPad 2Researchers at nursing schools at the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University are set to begin a government funded study to determine whether surveys on tablets may be a better way to screen pregnant women for abuse over the existing method of a nurse verbally asking during a home visit, according to a report in Psych Central.

The study will oversee 4,000 screenings of women in Baltimore and rural areas of both Virginia and Missouri. Half of the women screened will be asked about abuse by a visiting nurse, while the other 2,000 women will be handed a mobile tablet, like an Android device or iPad, along with ear phones and then guided through a series of questions about domestic partner violence. Importantly, the mobile app will have a safety button that can be pressed to cover up the questions in case the abuser walks in.

Researchers predict that the number of women that will self-identify as being victims of domestic abuse will increase by as much as a third when using the tablets.

The results of the study could change how policymakers use money set aside for home visits under the Affordable Health Care Act, according to the Psych Central report.

While it wasn't specifically focused on domestic abuse: Last year HHS sponsored an app developer challenge, called Apps Against Abuse, to encourage the creation of apps that helped prevent sexual assault and dating violence. Two apps won the competition: Circle of 6, a prototype of an iPhone app that aims to make it quick and easy for users to reach out to their circle of friends or family and let them know where they are and what they need. The other winning app, On Watch, also enables easy check-ins with friends, 911 or campus police. It also enables users to set count-down timers that send messages and GPS information automatically if events or activities don’t go according to plan.

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