COVID-19 and Mental Health (CMH) Initiative: Research

Examining the Use of Virtual Care Interventions to Provide Trauma-Focused Treatment to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Populations

Key Messages

  • The provision of online psychological therapies for reducing psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from domestic violence or sexual assault are effective.
  • When compared with face-to-face treatment interventions, trauma-focused virtual care interventions had similar outcome measures for mental health distress.
  • Provision of services virtual care interventions is also associated with a number of perceived challenges regarding the relationship between providers and clients, confidentiality, and patient safety, and technological barriers.
  • Virtual care interventions for this population is most effective when used to supplement or facilitate (rather than replace) in-person professional trauma-focused care.
  • Stakeholder interviews conducted in Alberta highlighted several barriers for virtual care for at-risk populations experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault during a pandemic. These include the practitioners’ inability to assess safety in the clients’ environment; challenges in making connection with new clients in virtual settings; and the loss of human connection in virtual settings that is vital in healing trauma.

Keywords

  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Virtual care
  • E-mental health
  • Trauma-focused treatment
  • Mental health

Author(s)

  • Nominated Principal Applicant: Dr. Stephanie Montesanti
  • Dr. Peter Silverstone, MD, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta
  • Dr. Lana Wells, PhD, Brenda Stafford Chair, Prevention of Domestic Violence, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary
  • Ms. Winta Ghidei, MPH, PhD Student, Project Manager, School of Public Health, University of Alberta

For more information, please contact: Dr. Stephanie Montesanti, montesan@ualberta.ca

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Population

Vulnerable or At-Risk Populations, Children, Youth and Families

Language

To ensure the rapid dissemination of this critical information, information is published in the language in which it was submitted. Please contact us for French or English translations.

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