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Program Profile: Foundations of Violence Against Women (VAW) Online Training Course

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on April 17, 2018

Program Summary

This is a 4-week online training course for individuals working or planning to work with survivors of intimate partner violence. The course covers a wide range of topics for building a strong, violence against women program and is based on feminist intersectional principles and values. The program is rated Promising. There were statistically significant increases in the intervention group’s scores on knowledge and attitudes, compared with the wait-list comparison group.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
The Foundations of Violence Against Women (VAW) Online Training Course was developed for individuals (such as students, volunteers, and professionals) working or planning to work with survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV). The objectives of the online training course include 1) supporting frontline staff to develop a professional portfolio that can be used in professional practice settings; 2) enhancing participants’ knowledge of feminist intersectional theory and practice; 3) developing a feminist intersectional analysis of documentation, risk assessment, harm reduction, and mental health to inform participants’ practice; 4) encouraging participants to engage in self-reflective practice; and 5) facilitating networking and relationship-building among peers. An intersectional approach to understanding and responding to VAW would recommend careful attention to the variability in how women of different races, ethnicities, economic circumstances, and cultures experience violence, as well as attention to the imperative for individuals working with women to transcend their own social circumstances, to provide helpful assistance to women. Intersectional feminism recognizes the multi-dimensional nature of women’s lives and how they interpret and navigate their day-to-day experiences of the shifting dynamics of power and privilege.
 
The Foundations of VAW Online Training Course is run by the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH), a coalition in Canada, which was founded by women’s shelter advocates. OAITH works with member agencies (such as emergency shelters, housing programs, and community-based service organizations) to educate and to promote change in areas that abused women and their children identify as important to their freedom from violence. The program began in 2013 and was updated in 2015.
 
Program Components
The Foundations of VAW Online Training Course is a 4-week course, which covers a wide range of topics and is based on feminist intersectional principles and values. The topics include four units. Unit 1 looks at intersectional feminism and VAW, as well as portfolio development. Unit 2 focuses on ethical decision-making; record-keeping (risks and strategies), and self-reflective practice. Unit 3 explores feminist analysis of mental health issues and harm reduction. Finally, Unit 4 examines risk assessment and safety planning.

In each topic area, strategies for applying feminist principles to working with IPV survivors are provided. The course also supports development of a portfolio for VAW counselors and advocates and incorporates facilitated discussions with peers.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Knowledge Scores
Etherington and colleagues (2017) found a statistically significant improvement at posttest on measures of knowledge for the intervention group, compared with the wait-list comparison group. The average knowledge score for the intervention group was 13.7, compared with 11.2 for the comparison group. 
 
Attitudes Scores
There was a statistically significant improvement for the intervention group at posttest on measures of attitudes, compared with the wait-list comparison group. The average attitudes score was 52.5 for the intervention group, compared with 49.5 for the comparison group.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Etherington and colleagues (2017) used a quasi-experimental (pre–posttest with comparison group) design to examine the impact of the Foundations of Violence Against Women (VAW) Online Training Course. The training course was promoted via email to all shelters and partner organizations in Ontario, Canada; at provincial events in the fall of 2015; and through social media and the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH) website. To participate, individuals had to create an account with OAITH’s online learning portal and self-enroll in the course. There were two training sessions provided in 2016, one in January (Course 1) and one in February (Course 2). Enrollment for both sessions opened at the same time, giving individuals the option as to which session they would enroll in. In the study, participants in Course 2 served as the comparison group, and participants in Course 1 served as the intervention group.

A total of 187 individuals registered for the online training course in January and February. However, 79 individuals did not complete the course and were excluded from the analyses. This resulted in a final sample of 108 participants (50 in Course 1 and 58 in Course 2). There was no statistically significant difference between individuals who dropped out and those who remained in the course on demographic characteristics assessed, including age and education level. In addition, there was no statistically significant difference between participants in Course 1 and participants in Course 2. Ages ranged from 17 to 64, with most participants (52 percent) between 25 to 34 years of age. Most participants (60%) had 3 years or less of experience in the VAW sector, and almost the same amount (66 percent) had a postsecondary degree. Almost all participants (90 percent) had participated in prior VAW training or learning experiences. There was no information provided about race/ethnicity or gender of the participants.

Pre- and posttest survey questions were developed based on a series of core competencies for domestic violence training programs. Survey measures looked at knowledge and attitudes of participants. Knowledge measures included 15 multiple-choice and true–false questions, where participants had to correctly identify the answer on topics such as oppression, intersectional analysis, self-reflective practice, documentation, survivors with mental health conditions, risk, and harm reduction. Each correct response was assigned a value of 1 and summed (the maximum score was 15). Attitudinal measures involved participants indicating their level of agreement with 15 statements such as “women who stay in abusive relationships do not consider the safety of their children.” Level of agreement was rated on a scale from 0 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree); the maximum score was 60.

ANCOVA and ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models were also used to account for participant demographic characteristics (such as age, education, and previous training). The posttest scores of the intervention group (in Course 1) were compared with the pretest scores of the wait-list comparison group (in Course 2), to determine whether increases in scores could be attributed to the online training course, using two-sample t tests. There was no subgroup analysis conducted.
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Cost

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All online courses are free, once an online account is created through the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH) website: http://www.oaith.ca/train/training.html
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Implementation Information

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More information about the Foundations of Violence Against Women (VAW) Online Training Course can be found on the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH) training website: http://www.oaith.ca/train/training.html
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Etherington, Nicole, Linda Baker, Marlene Ham, and Denise Glasbeek. 2017. “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Online Training for a Comprehensive Violence Against Women Program: A Pilot Study.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Online first August 24, 2017.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0886260517725734
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Program Snapshot

Age: 17 - 64

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Other

Geography: Rural, Suburban, Urban

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting

Program Type: Gender-Specific Programming, Vocational/Job Training, Victim Programs, Violence Prevention

Targeted Population: Victims of Crime

Current Program Status: Active

Program Director:
Marlene Ham
Director
Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)
P.O. Box 27585 Yorkdale Mall
Toronto, Ontario M6A 3B8
Phone: 417.977.6619
Website
Email

Researcher:
Nicole Etherington
Clinical Research Associate
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Centre for Practice Changing Research
501 Smyth Road
Ottawa, Ontario KIH 8L6
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Linda Baker
Learning Director
Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children, Western University
1137 Western Road., Room 1158
London, Ontario N6H 4A2
Phone: 519.661.2111 ext: 80077
Fax: 519.850.2464
Website
Email