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Fam Pract. 2014 Feb;31(1):71-80. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmt058. Epub 2013 Oct 16.

Support by trained mentor mothers for abused women: a promising intervention in primary care.

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Department of Primary and Community Care, Unit Gender & Women's Health, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Intimate partner violence (IPV) against women is a major health problem and negatively affects the victim's mental and physical health. Evidence-based interventions in family practice are scarce.


We aimed to evaluate a low threshold home-visiting intervention for abused women provided by trained mentor mothers in family practice. The aim was to reduce exposure to IPV, symptoms of depression as well as to improve social support, participation in society and acceptance of mental health care.


A pre-post study of a 16-week mentoring intervention with identified abused women with children was conducted. After referral by a family doctor, a mentor mother visited the abused woman weekly. Primary outcomes are IPV assessed with the Composite Abuse Scale (CAS), depressive symptoms using the Symptom Checklist (SCL 90) and social support by the Utrecht Coping List. Secondary outcomes are analysed qualitatively: participation in society defined as employment and education and the acceptance of mental health care.


At baseline, 63 out of 66 abused women were referred to mentor support. Forty-three participants completed the intervention programme. IPV decreased from CASt otal 46.7 (SD 24.7) to 9.0 (SD 9.1) (P ≤ 0.001) after the mentor mother support programme. Symptoms of depression decreased from 53.3 (SD 13.7) to 34.8 (SD 11.5) (P ≤ 0.001) and social support increased from 13.2 (SD 4.0) to 15.2 (SD 3.5) (P ≤ 0.001). Participation in society and the acceptance of mental health for mother and child improved.


Sixteen weekly visits by trained mentor mothers are a promising intervention to decrease exposure to IPV and symptoms of depression, as well as to improve social support, participation in society and the acceptance of professional help for abused women and their children.


Depression; family practice; home visiting; intimate partner violence; mentor mothering; social support.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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