Abuse assessment, Intimate partner violence, Multisite studies, Pregnancy



  1. Higgins, Loretta P. EdD, RN
  2. Hawkins, Joellen W. PhD, RNC, FAAN


Screening for abuse at every healthcare visit is a standard of practice promulgated by many healthcare professional organizations. The need for such screening is underscored by reports of homicide as a leading cause of maternal mortality during pregnancy and the first year of the baby's life in Massachusetts and Maryland, and by the calculation of the costs of intimate partner violence in the United States. This article discusses how we addressed problems that arose in implementing screening for abuse in 13 different sites as a part of a clinical nursing research project. Engaging in clinical nursing research necessitates close relationships with clinical agencies and their staff members. This often means establishing and maintaining relationships with all nurses caring for patients in each clinical unit serving as a study site. For research on abuse during pregnancy, our study team members were engaged in interactions with prenatal care providers at 13 different study sites. Central to the study was implementing use of a standardized abuse screening tool, the Abuse Assessment Screen, at each study site. This article also describes the lessons we learned in attempting to implement such a large scale change in clinical practice.