The University of Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing began a new training simulation to better equip nurses in assisting victims of Intimate partner violence (IPV). The school says IPV has become a prevalent health care issue – and instances of assault, battery, rape, stalking and emotional abuse in relationships can be difficult for nurses to handle as they often lack the appropriate training to feel confident enough to screen patients for IPV.

"Nearly every nurse will encounter a victim of IPV during his/her career," says Lea Wood, director of simulation and assistant teaching professor of nursing. "Yet, many providers feel uncomfortable when it happens. They worry that they will say the wrong thing and make the situation worse for the patient. So while providers know the importance of screening patients for IPV, the number of screenings actually occurring remains low."

The Sinclair School of Nursing is the first program in the U.S. to implement such a simulation in its undergraduate curriculum, according to Wood, who designed the IVP curriculum – and she says the program’s results indicate it could become a national model for training nurses.

Wood's goal in designing the training program for nursing students was to overcome existing barriers through the use of simulation in the classroom as opposed to lecture alone. Close to 100 undergraduate nursing students participated in a simulation that included treating a Hispanic woman who wanted to go back to school. When she told her husband, he reacted violently. In treating the patient, students practiced building trust, ensuring privacy and making the patient feel safe while also considering cultural components that arise in health care.

Students were surveyed on their confidence and knowledge in dealing with partner violence before the simulation began. They then were surveyed after a lecture on IPV and again after participating in the simulation. Wood found significant evidence in the research that simulation had a greater positive impact on nursing students' perceived confidence and knowledge about dealing with IPV than lecture alone.

"The positive effects we found are significant enough to conclude that simulation could also go well beyond nursing students," she says, and heathcare providers could easily include a simulation component as part of professional development programs.

Results about the simulation were published in Clinical Simulation in Nursing.