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Shelter Workers as Advocates for the Mental Health of Abused Women: The Need for Mental Health Screening and Referral in Domestic Violence Shelters  

Author:  Martha  Markward.; Lynette M.  Renner.

Source: Volume 05, Number 04, Spring 2013 , pp.321-340(20)

Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly

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Many women who experience intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization report significant mental health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation or suicide attempts. Women who utilize shelter services display significantly higher levels of mental health problems, compared to women who access other domestic violence services. Thus, it is imperative that staff in domestic violence shelters have access to quality mental health measures that can be incorporated into the assessment process. This exploratory review of literature identifiesinstruments that researchers have used in assessing the mental health of women who have experienced IPV victimization. The publications included in this review were identified through electronic searches of the following EBSCOhost databases: Premier, Medline, and PsychInfo. By using this integrated search strategy, each database was searched using the following key words: mental health (title), abused or battered women (subject), and assessment (subject). When the search was limited to full-text articles published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2012, and duplicates were removed, the search yielded 50 studies. In 21 studies, 45 measures/sections of measures were identified that have been used in research to assess the mental health of women who have experienced IPV, including measures of global mental health, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse. The results show that several measures are reliable and valid and have utility for use in screening the psychological needs of women in domestic violence shelters.

Keywords: Mental health assessments; Self-Reporting Questionnaire-20 (SRQ-20); depression; suicide; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); substance abuse

Affiliations:  1: University of Missouri School of Social Work; 2: University of Iowa School of Social Work.

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