Our Story: The science of safety

Relationship abuse is often complex and dangerous, making it difficult for someone to evaluate their situation while juggling competing priorities. Safety planning is the cornerstone of intimate partner violence interventions and is ideally an individualized process, taking into account each survivor’s unique situation. Safety planning is most frequently accessed through traditional support services (e.g. hotlines, shelters, domestic violence programs). Yet the vast majority of abuse survivors report never accessing these services, representing missed opportunities to reduce violence and its negative consequences.

Designed through a series of multi-year research studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, myPlan is the first interactive safety decision aid. The tool is accessible via a mobile app and website, and designed to assist intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors in identifying and navigating their own safe path forward.

Decision aids in health care settings have been shown to be effective in assisting patients to make difficult decisions about treatment options. By providing information and helping to clarify personal values, decision aids can assist someone to weigh risks and benefits to make informed decisions that impact their safety.

Backed by research

In 2010, Johns Hopkins University developed and tested an early computerized version of the decision aid in domestic violence shelters. Survivors reported that the tool offered privacy to consider personalized safety options, informed them about danger in their relationship, and provided useful safety planning and resource information. After the promising feedback from the pilot, the next 6 years were spent developing the tool further based on survivor and advocate feedback and the effectiveness of the tool was tested in 2 longitudinal randomized controlled trials with over 1000 survivors, friends, and advocates across the country.

myPlan is the result of multiple research studies to develop and test a safety decision aid for effective use in different contexts.

Created using the sound science of decision-making and risk assessment, and the empowerment framework that informs domestic violence advocacy and safety planning services. Developed and tested at every stage with survivors, friends of survivors, and relationship violence advocates & providers. Effectiveness tested in multiple randomized controlled trials. Contains the Danger Assessment, a validated risk assessment tool used for over 25 years by advocates, law enforcement, and other professionals.

More at www.DangerAssessment.org

Promising results for safer relationships

We continue to optimize and improve the tool based on real-life users interactions and feedback. Survivors who use myPlan report:

  • Reduced decisional conflict (e.g. increased clarity of priorities for safety, felt more supported in making a decision for safety)
  • Using more safety behaviors in their relationship
  • Being more likely to safely end a dangerous relationship

Alvarez C, Debnam K, Clough A, Alexander K, Glass NE. (2018) Responding to intimate partner violence: Healthcare providers' current practices and views on integrating a safety decision aid into primary care settings. Res Nurs Health. 1–11.

Tarzia L, Murray E, Humphreys C, Glass N, Taft A, Valpied J, Hegarty K. (2016) I-DECIDE: An Online Intervention Drawing on the Psychosocial Readiness Model for Women Experiencing Domestic Violence. Women’s Health Issues, 2016 Mar-Apr;26(2):208-16.

Bloom, T., Gielen, A., & Glass, N. (2016). Safety planning with college women in abusive same-sex relationships, their friend and their smartphones. Journal of Homosexuality. Jun;63(6):855-74.

Glass, N., Clough, A., Case, J., Hanson, G., Waterbury, A., Barnes-Hoyt, J., Alhusen, J., Ehrensaft, M., Grace, K.T., & Perrin, N. (2015). A safety app to respond to dating violence for college women and their friends: The MyPlan Study randomized controlled trial protocol. BMC Public Health, 15: 871.

Alhusen, J., Bloom, T., Clough, A., & Glass, N. (2015). Development of the MyPlan safety decision app with friends of college women in abusive dating relationships. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 33:3, 263-282, doi: 10.1080/15228835.2015.1037414

Koziol-McLain, J., Vandal, A.C., Nada-Raja, S., Wilson, D., Glass, N.E., Eden, K.B., McLean, C., Dobbs, T., & Case, J. (2015). A web-based intervention for abused women: the New Zealand isafe randomised controlled trial protocol. BMC Public Health, 15:56. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1395-0

Hegarty K, Tarzia L, Murray E, Valpied J, Humphreys C, Taft A, Gold L, Glass N. (2015). Protocol for a randomised controlled trial of a web-based healthy relationship tool and safety decision aid for women experiencing domestic violence (I-DECIDE). BMC Public Health, Aug 1;15:736.

Eden, K., Perrin, N., Hanson, G., Messing, J., Bloom, T., Campbell, J., Gielen, A., Clough, A., Barnes-Hoyt, J.,  & Glass, N. (2014). Use of online safety decision aid by abused women: Effect on decisional conflict in a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 48(4), 372-383.

Bloom, T.L., Glass, N.E., Case, J., Wright, C., Nolte, K., & Parsons, L. (2014). Feasibility of an online safety planning intervention for rural and urban pregnant abused women. Nursing Research, 63(4), 243-251.

Lindsay, M., Messing, J., Thaller, T., Baldwin, A., Clough, A., Bloom, T., Eden, K., & Glass, N. (2013). Survivor feedback on a safety decision aid smartphone application for college-age women in abusive relationships. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 31(4), 368-388.

Glass, N., Perrin, N., Bloom, T., & Hanson, G. (2010). Computerized aid improves safety decision process for survivors of intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25(11), 1947-1964

Interested in partnering?

myPlan is designed to continue to grow and evolve, incorporating evidence-based safety planning content for diverse survivor populations and settings, in the US and beyond.

If you are an organization or researcher interested in adapting the myPlan platform for a particular purpose or audience, please contact us.

The Team

myPlan is led by Dr. Nancy Glass PhD, MPH, RN, a Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, with a joint appointment at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the Associate Dean of Research for the School of Nursing, as well as the Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health. Dr. Glass has over 20 years of intimate partner violence (IPV) experience across clinical and research settings, both domestically and globally. Her expertise is in developing and evaluating the effectiveness of innovative community-based interventions to prevent and address IPV, and its consequences, with diverse populations.

Twitter: @ProfGlassPhD

  • Nancy Perrin, PhD
  • Jackie Campbell, PhD, RN
  • Karen Eden, PhD
  • Ginger Hanson, PhD
  • Tina Bloom, PhD, MPH, RN
  • Jill Messing, PhD, MSW
  • Andrea Gielen ScD, ScM
  • James Case, MBI
  • Amber Clough, MSW
  • Jamie Barnes-Hoyt, MS
  • Megan Lindsay, PhD, MSW
  • Karen Grace, MSN, CNM

Thank you to all the other contributors, students, domestic violence advocates, and most importantly, survivors who have given their time and expertise to the development of myPlan.