Western University says the Public Health Agency of Canada is allocating just over $3-million dollars to an international team of researchers to deliver and study a program to help women who have experienced domestic violence.
The $3,050,674 will allow the researchers to examine the impacts of ‘iHEAL’, a community-based program designed to meet the needs of women who have separated from an abusive partner. iHEAL is delivered by community health nurses and a community partner, for example a domestic violence worker or Indigenous Elder, working in partnership with women over a 6-month period. The women would first take part in workshops in a group setting and then in one-on-one meetings with a nurse to focus specifically on individual concerns and priorities.
“Women who make the decision to separate from an abusive partner do so to work toward safer, more satisfying lives, but this is often a difficult transition,” said Dr. Marilyn Ford-Gilboe, Women’s Health Research Chair in Rural Health at the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing at Western University.
“For many women, the violence does not end after separation and can even increase, and they face other challenges that can feel overwhelming, especially if they have few supports.”
Ford-Gilboe is leading the research team and four other Western researchers are also on the team. The study will be co-led by partners at the University of British Columbia and the University of New Brunswick and will also include researchers at McMaster University, University of Montreal, and Johns Hopkins University.
The team has tested iHEAL in smaller studies in Ontario, New Brunswick, and British Columbia – where the focus was with Indigenous women. Women who have completed the program say they felt more “confident, stronger and hopeful about the future”. The program aims to help women dealing with ongoing violence, social isolation, and other issues women often encounter when leaving an abusive partner.
The funding will expand the project to include 280 women in rural and urban communities in those same provinces. The study will test the impact iHEAL has on those involved in the study and a later phase in New Brunswick will also see how the program can adapt for Francophone women.
“This investment is another step towards ensuring that serious inroads are made when it comes to combatting family violence. iHEAL – which is a project testing the effectiveness of a health promotion intervention for women who have experienced intimate partner violence – is a collaborative initiative that is critically needed,” said Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament, London North Centre.
“I would like to congratulate Marilyn Ford Gilboe the project lead from Western University, as well her co-investigators, on their success.”
The funding will be spread out over five years, ending in September 2021.