Carol Wick, MS, CEO of Harbor House domestic abuse center in Orlando, Fla., hopes that someday soon every nurse seeing patients in any healthcare setting will use a free mobile device app for screening potential victims of domestic abuse.
“The American Medical Association just said doctors need to start screening,” Wick said. “But it will be the nurses who screen patients for domestic abuse, so we are trying to get this app into the hands of nurses, social workers and case managers.”
Harbor House launched the R3 app in January, and anyone can download it for free using an iPhone or iPad. It is the first and only app to provide information that assists medical professionals in assessing potential domestic violence victims and referring them to resources that can help, according to Wick.Lisa Martinez, RN
“It’s an interesting option to have available, and it’s so simple to use,” said Lisa Myerson, RN, BSN, nursing program specialist in Orange County’s Healthy Start Program. “I can definitely see value in screening at every visit because I think domestic abuse is a tough thing to open up about.”
The name R3 derives from the tool’s goals of helping caregivers do three things: recognize signs of abuse, respond to those signs effectively and refer victims to appropriate sources of help. Wick said the app contains contact information for every domestic abuse shelter and program in the U.S. that is recognized by state coalitions, as well as national and state hotline numbers.
The R3 app incorporates the HITS method for screening. When caregivers use the app, they are prompted to ask patients how often their partners hurt, insulted, threatened or screamed at them. The caregiver enters the numbers onscreen and is given a score that indicates whether the patient may be a potential victim of domestic violence. The app also provides instructions on how to document the patient interview, what to say to potential victims and how and where to refer them for assistance based on ZIP code. It also gives a link to state websites that convey what caregivers are required to do when they encounter a victim of abuse.
“The R3 app is very easy to use and a valuable tool to identify clients that are at high risk for domestic violence,” said Lisa Martinez, RN, BSN, nursing program specialist with Healthy Start. “I love that it is a simple four-question process and that the resources are readily available.”
The R3 app is appropriate for use with female and male patients. Because it not only identifies abusive relationships but also assesses the risk for abuse, the app’s creators believe the tool can help prevent many cases of domestic violence if it gains widespread use. Anyone may download and use the app to help others or to help themselves.
The app can be downloaded at itunes.apple.com/us/app/r3-app/id491452316?mt+8.