A collaboration between the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and Universidad de Monterrey and Women’s Institute in Nuevo Leon in Mexico received a global health reciprocal innovation planning grant to examine the effectiveness of group interventions for young, pregnant women facing intimate partner violence (IPV).
The award from the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) and IU Center for Global Health (IUCGH) supports the formation of the partnership to study the implementation of the Pregnant Moms’ Empowerment Program (PMEP) in Mexico.
IPV is the experience of physical, sexual or psychological abuse perpetrated by a current or former partner or spouse. Young women and those that are expecting are most likely to experience IPV, which is a significant threat to health and well-being around the world.
PMEP was originally developed and evaluated in the U.S. as a group intervention to address mental, maternal and infant health impacts of IPV. This planning grant supports development of the partnership team and a pilot trial of materials adapted specifically for women in Mexico. An earlier grant from Notre Dame International supported adaptation and revision of the program materials specifically for use in Mexico, which is part of a multi-country study.
Laura Miller-Graff, PhD, associate professor of psychology and peace studies at Notre Dame and faculty affiliate of the Eck Institute for Global Health, is the principal investigator (PI) for the project.
“Pregnancy is a time when women are motivated to make positive changes in their lives,” said Miller-Graff.
The program integrates psychoeducation, interactive learning and group-based discussion.
“This research stands to contribute significantly to the global health research and policy on women and children placed at risk by intimate partner violence,” Miller-Graff added.
Cecilia Martinez-Torteya, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Education and School Psychology at Universidad de Monterrey in Mexico serves as co-PI. Her scholarship and practice is focused on how stress and trauma lead to emotional and behavioral problems among women and their young children, and identifying factors that promote resilience in the face of violence and adversity.
“The project has the potential to address not only the specific needs of pregnant women experiencing IPV in the United States and Mexico, but also identify relatively simple adaptations that can enhance the transportability of the program to other international populations,” said Martinez-Torteya.
Kathryn H. Howell, PhD, associate professor, Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis, brings a wealth of experience in community-based research and working with IPV-exposed pregnant women and children to the project as another co-PI.
“This research addresses an important gap, as there is no currently available intervention that has shown effectiveness in remediating the effects of IPV on the mental health of pregnant women or the effects of prenatal IPV exposure on infants,” said Howell.
Miller-Graff, Martinez-Torteya and Howell collaborated on several prior initiatives examining the effects of violence on child development. Restrictions on in-person meetings related to COVID-19 compelled the investigators to pursue innovations to the way group interventions and client interviews are conducted.
“We have learned a great deal regarding virtual implementation of the program throughout the pandemic, and we believe that this will be of great benefit to the project long-term,” said Miller-Graff.
Making use of both in-person and virtual formats will allow for broader geographic reach and dissemination.
“This is particularly relevant for the success of the program in Monterrey, as service providers identified transportation barriers as one of the main reasons pregnant low-income women may not participate in PMEP during the focus groups we conducted last year. Thus, the virtual format may be appealing and accessible to a broader group of women,” Miller-Graff added.
The $10,000 planning grant will be matched by the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health to create a $20,000 budget that will fund an on-site program manager as well as small incentives to participants for each interview completed.
CTSI Global Health Reciprocal Innovation Planning Grants
Reciprocal innovation planning grants are open to principal investigators from an Indiana CTSI institution (IU, Purdue, and Notre Dame) working in collaborative partnerships with investigators in low- or middle-income countries (LMIC). The planning efforts must demonstrate an understanding of shared health challenges in underserved communities in Indiana and LMIC partner sites, as well as a commitment to the development of new programs or partnerships that will result in the development and demonstration of reciprocal innovation projects.