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UNB co-develops new online tool to support Canadian women experiencing intimate partner violence

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Feb 27, 2020

Category: UNB Fredericton

Dr. Kelly Scott-Storey

Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects one in three Canadian women, but only one in five Canadian women experiencing IPV access violence services. Researchers at the University of New Brunswick, Western University and the University of British Columbia may have found a solution.

iCAN Plan 4 Safety (iCAN) is the first interactive, online health and safety resource of its kind for Canadian women experiencing IPV. Dr. Kelly Scott-Storey, associate professor in nursing and research fellow at the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre at UNB, collaborated with co-leads Dr. Marilyn Ford-Gilboe from Western and Dr. Colleen Varcoe from UBC and a tri-provincial team of researchers on the project funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“Given that we know fewer than one in five women access formal violence services, we are capitalizing on the use of technology to provide additional ways to reach and support women who have experienced intimate partner violence,” says Dr. Scott-Storey.

Many women face barriers to support, such as a lack of services, lack of access due to financial or transportation issues, stigma or desire for privacy. For many women, dealing with the violence and the effects of violence is a long-term, complicated process.

iCAN will provide an additional option for women. Dr. Scott-Storey says iCAN is not a replacement for existing services, but rather it will complement and extend these services which will help to address the barriers to accessing the traditional services, especially in rural communities.

During the development and testing process, women, service providers and agencies of New Brunswick played a large role in the design of iCAN. iCAN is designed to provide individualized feedback and connect women to resources within the province and community where they reside. Women living in New Brunswick will receive information, suggestions and a personalized action plan relevant and specific to the province.

iCAN is a secure, online tool that has been developed using the latest IPV research and is designed to be inclusive of women from varied backgrounds. It puts control for decisions and actions in the women’s hands linking them to specialized support resources. The initial results detailing the safety, helpfulness and impacts of iCAN were published in the journal BMC Public Health on Feb. 26.

The next iteration of iCAN will be called My Plan Canada. It is currently being migrated to a new platform and it will be freely available to all Canadian women who have experienced intimate partner violence. Dr. Scott-Storey and the team of researchers will work with agencies serving women who have experienced partner violence to integrate this new technology into provided services. My Plan Canada is anticipated for release in the summer of 2020.

Media contact: Paisley Sibbald

Photo credit: Joy Cummings/UNB