Engaging and Retaining Abused Women in Perinatal Home Visitation Programs

Document Type


Publication Date



OBJECTIVES: Intimate partner violence (IPV) during pregnancy affects 0.9% to 17% of women and affects maternal health significantly. The impact of IPV extends to the health of children, including an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and the neonatal period, mental health problems, and cognitive delays. Despite substantial sequelae, there is limited research substantiating best practices for engaging and retaining high-risk families in perinatal home visiting (HV) programs, which have been shown to improve infant development and reduce maltreatment. METHODS: The Domestic Violence Enhanced Home Visitation Program (DOVE) is a multistate longitudinal study testing the effectiveness of a structured IPV intervention integrated into health department perinatal HV programs. The DOVE intervention, based on an empowerment model, combined 2 evidence-based interventions: A 10-minute brochurebased IPV intervention and nurse home visitation. RESULTS: Across all sites, 689 referrals were received from participating health departments. A total of 339 abused pregnant women were eligible for randomization; 42 women refused, and 239 women were randomly assigned (124 DOVE; 115 usual care), resulting in a 71% recruitment rate. Retention rates from baseline included 93% at delivery, 80% at 3 months, 76% at 6 months, and 72% at 12 months. CONCLUSIONS: Challenges for HV programs include identifying and retaining abused pregnant women in their programs. DOVE strategies for engaging and retaining abused pregnant women should be integrated into HV programs' federal government mandates for the appropriate identification and intervention of women and children exposed to IPV. Pediatrics 2013;132:S134-S139. © 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.