Maternal Child Home Visiting Program Improves Nursing Practice for Screening of Woman Abuse


Sharon Vanderburg, Algoma Public Health, 126 Queen Street East, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada P6A 1Y5. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Objective: This study investigated changes in public health nurse practices and the incidence of abuse inquiry and disclosure.

Design and Sample: A retrospective record review of cross-sectional data was collected before and after implementation of the Routine Universal Comprehensive Screening (RUCS) protocol within a maternal child home visiting program. Records of postpartum women receiving a universal home visit within 48 hr of discharge from the hospital were reviewed (pre-RUCS, n=459; post-RUCS, n=485). Also reviewed were the records of women receiving a family assessment for at risk home visiting (pre-RUCS, n=79; post-RUCS, n=66).

Measures: The variables collected consisted of abuse inquiry, abuse disclosure, and the alone status.

Results: Documentation of women's alone status significantly improved for both types of home visits: the 48-hr home visits ( p<.001) and the at risk home visits ( p<.01). Disclosures of abuse significantly increased in both types of home visits ( p<.01). Ensuring privacy by not asking abuse questions if women were not alone during a visit significantly improved ( p<.001).

Conclusions: Implementing a protocol to screen for woman abuse into an existing maternal child home visiting program demonstrated improved practices related to the safety and privacy of women, and an increase in abuse disclosures.