Project Summary

Intimate partner violence (IPV) includes physical, psychological and sexual violence by a past or current intimate partner. IPV can happen to anyone and often impacts peoples’ health and how they feel about themselves. For example, people who experience IPV often have lower self-efficacy (i.e., one’s belief that they can achieve their goals, despite whatever life difficulties they may encounter) and higher symptoms of depression than people who do not experience IPV. 

Going to see a doctor or other provider at a healthcare setting can be a safe place for patients to disclose IPV and get connected to interventions and resources that can help. Brief advocacy counseling is the most common intervention patients who experience past-year IPV are likely to receive. This intervention includes learning about IPV, discussing ways to increase safety, getting support and validation, and learning about IPV-related resources and services. Brief advocacy can have benefits for patients’ health and safety, but it tends to be brief, unstructured and generic, thereby limiting the robustness of these benefits. Many patients and providers want a more comprehensive intervention that can be personalized to better address patients’ individual needs and situations, which in turn is expected to lead to better improvements in patients’ health and well-being. 

Recovering from IPV through Strengths and Empowerment (RISE) is a promising intervention that was developed for patients experiencing IPV that may fill this need. It is an individualized, motivational and flexible intervention that addresses the following topics: 

  • Safety planning 
  • IPV health effects and warning signs 
  • Improving coping and self-care 
  • Enhancing social support 
  • Making difficult decisions 
  • Connecting with resources and moving forward 
  • Sexual violence over the lifespan 

Early research on RISE indicates it improves patients’ self-efficacy and depression symptoms. However, it is not known how well RISE works compared to what patients typically receive for IPV intervention within the healthcare setting. 

This study test which approach—RISE or brief advocacy—is better for improving self-efficacy and depressive symptoms among patients with past-year IPV at Veterans Health Administration (VHA) healthcare facilities. Researchers will also look at outcomes by gender and whether some patients do better than others, so they can offer more personalized treatment recommendations to patients. 

Participants will be randomly assigned to either RISE or brief advocacy. Patients assigned to RISE will receive up to eight sessions in which they choose which topics they would like to work on and identify specific goals to meet between sessions that are important to them. Consistent with what patients would typically receive in the healthcare setting, those assigned to brief advocacy will receive a single highly supportive session that includes: 

  • Education about IPV and its health impacts 
  • Discussion of ways to increase safety 
  • Information about resources and referral options for services in VHA and the community 

Participants will answer questions about their self-efficacy and depression symptoms right before receiving treatment, 12 weeks later and then every three months after that for one year. At the end of the study, the research team will compare which intervention, RISE versus brief advocacy, worked better to increase self-efficacy and decrease depression symptoms. Researchers will also track other outcomes that are important to patients (e.g., how much they are living in accordance with their values). 

A patient/IPV survivor panel will help the study team safely engage patients, including men and minority groups, to make sure as many patients as possible feel comfortable participating in the study and to help the team communicate study findings to patients in a way that resonates with them. A clinician panel will provide feedback on the study and how to make the findings as useful as possible to those treating patients who experience IPV. An advisory committee of healthcare leaders from within and outside VHA and directors of IPV-related community service organizations will provide guidance to ensure use of study findings by services that commonly treat people who experience IPV.

Project Information

Katherine Iverson, M.A., Ph.D.
Melissa Dichter, MSW, Ph.D.
Boston VA Research Institute, Inc.
$6,068,580 *

Key Dates

69 months *
April 2024

*All proposed projects, including requested budgets and project periods, are approved subject to a programmatic and budget review by PCORI staff and the negotiation of a formal award contract.


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Last updated: April 23, 2024