Apps and other technology tools have been helping to address several globally pervasive public health challenges. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is one of those challenges. Most survivors – mostly women - never access formal services for support; more often disclosing abuse to family or friends who likely lack the knowledge and confidence to respond. To address this challenge, Alliance for a Healthier World (AHW) Steering Committee member and Johns Hopkins School of Nursing professor Dr. Nancy Glass has been leading a collaborative team to develop myPlan. myPlan is a free app and online tool survivors can use to evaluate the health and safety of a relationship and connect to resources from their computer or phone.
myPlan provides customized information depending on the survivor’s circumstance, including availability in Spanish, considerations for those with children, and a component specifically for college students, who experience high levels of dating abuse. myPlan does not replace trained advocates and service providers. It focuses on empowering survivors to access information, make decisions and to reach out to services that can effectively respond to their needs.
How effective is it?
myPlan has been rigorously tested in controlled trials and shows promising results. Compared to a control group, women facing IPV who used myPlan were able to make more effective decisions and were more likely to safely leave the abusive partner. Similarly, preliminary results from a trial with college students showed that 12 months after using myPlan, the percent of students experiencing physical or sexual abuse declined, and students with an abusive partner felt more prepared to make safety decisions than those in the control group. The trials also found that college friends of survivors were more prepared to help a friend in an unsafe relationship make a plan for their own safety if needed than those in the control group.
Next steps for reaching potential myPlan users
myPlan is live and available for all now! Rollout to college campuses started in February and will continue over the next year. For this audience, they have created the myPlan Campus Toolkit, a resource hub for campus staff, faculty, administrators, and student leaders to access shareable tools such as flyers, social media posts, and a short animated video to integrate myPlan into campus safety efforts. They are also implementing outreach campaigns for national and state level campus and dating violence-affiliated organizations to spread the word about the toolkit to their networks.
myPlan is being adapted for women in Kenya. Dr. Glass’ team is working with local partners and campuses in Nairobi to adapt and pilot myPlan for community women and college students in low-resource settings.
The app and toolkit are examples of encouraged by the Alliance for a Healthier World’s thematic area on gender equity and justice, co-led by Dr. Glass in collaboration with her colleague, Dr. Michele Decker. They are engaging a wide range of expertise and perspectives to bolster education, economic and decision-making power for women, and in turn, improve the health and well-being of women and their families.
Want more information about the myPlan app?
To learn more about myPlan, visit:
myPlan website myplanapp.org
For technical and outreach information, contact Dr. Nancy Glass or Amber Clough, myPlan Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glass, N., Perrin, N., Hanson, G., Bloom, T., Messing, J., Clough, A., Campbell, J., Gielen, A., Case, J., & Eden, K. (2017) "The Longitudinal Impact of an Internet Safety Decision Aid for Abused Women." Am Journal of Preventive Medicine. 52(5), 606-615.
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.
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.
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.
Nancy Glass co-leads the AHW Gender Equity & Justice theme, and is Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She is also the Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health. Her clinical and community-based intervention research aims to improve safety, health, and economic security and address gender inequity in diverse community and clinic settings.