A randomized controlled trial of a computer-based brief intervention for victimized perinatal women seeking mental health treatment

  • Caron ZlotnickEmail author
  • Golfo Tzilos Wernette
  • Christina A. Raker
Original Article


Intimate partner victimization (IPV) during the perinatal period is associated with adverse outcomes for the woman, her developing fetus, and any children in her care. Maternal mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety, are prevalent during the perinatal period particularly among women experiencing IPV. Screening and interventions for IPV targeting women seeking mental health treatment are lacking. In the current study, we examine the feasibility, acceptability, and the preliminary efficacy of a brief, motivational computer-based intervention, SURE (Strength for U in Relationship Empowerment), for perinatal women with IPV seeking mental health treatment. The study design was a two-group, randomized controlled trial with 53 currently pregnant or within 6-months postpartum women seeking mental health treatment at a large urban hospital-based behavioral health clinic for perinatal women. Findings support the acceptability and feasibility of the SURE across a number of domains including content, delivery, and retention. All participants (100%) found the information and resources in SURE to be helpful. Our preliminary results found the degree of IPV decreased significantly from baseline to the 4-month follow-up for the SURE condition (paired t-test, p < 0.001), while the control group was essentially unchanged. Moreover, there was a significant reduction in emotional abuse for SURE participants (p = 0.023) relative to participants in the control condition. There were also reductions in physical abuse although non-significant (p = 0.060). Future work will test SURE in a larger, more diverse sample. Identifier: NCT02370394


Perinatal Intimate partner victimization Computer intervention 



This research was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) R21 HD077358 (PI: Zlotnick; Co-Is: Tzilos Wernette). The authors gratefully acknowledge the women who participated in this study, as well as the research staff at Women and Infant Hospital (Ms. Sarah Hill and Ms. Michelle Scully) for their assistance with data collection and computer programming.

Funding information

This research was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) HD077358.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

No competing financial interests exist for authors Golfo Tzilos Wernette and Christina Raker. Caron Zlotnick’s husband is a consultant for Soberlink.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caron Zlotnick
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Golfo Tzilos Wernette
    • 5
  • Christina A. Raker
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine at Women and Infants HospitalProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Mental HealthUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Butler HospitalProvidenceUSA
  5. 5.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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