iHEAL in Context

Testing the Effectiveness of a Health Promotion Intervention for women who have experiences intimate partner violence

View Project Fact Sheet (PDF)


To test whether iHEAL, an evidence-based health promotion intervention already tested in three specific groups of women, helps those who have left an abusive partner lead healthier, safer, more satisfying lives.


  • To refine iHEAL to make it appropriate for all women
  • To engage rural and urban partners to tailor the iHEAL to fit with their different contexts
  • To study, in Ontario, British Columbia and New Brunswick (NB), whether iHEAL improves women’s health and quality of life, compared to finding support or services on their own
  • To adapt iHEAL for NB’s Francophone women so it’s acceptable, feasible, and beneficial
  • To share project lessons with stakeholders to enhance supports and services for all women


Refine the intervention

  • Identify lessons from earlier studies to improve iHEAL
  • Revise iHEAL to strengthen it's fit and impacts for ALL WOMEN
  • Update the iHEAL manual and materials used by nurses, partners and women

Standardize delivery of the intervention

  • Create a standardized training program to prepare nurses to work with women in iHEAL
  • Develop guidelines for supervising and supporting the nurses

Prepare for the trial

In each province:

  • Engage stakeholders about offering iHEAL locally
  • Confirm 2-3 study sites
  • Consult with local partners about how to tailor iHEAL to community
  • Hire and train nurses and supervisors to offer iHEAL to women

Conduct the trial

  • Recruit 280 study participants
  • Pre-iHEAL assessments
  • Assign women to iHEAL or usual care
  • Offer iHEAL for 6 months
  • Post-iHEAL assessments
  • Interview nurses, women and partners
  • Analyze and summarize findings

Adapt iHEAL for Francophone women in New Brunswick

  • Engage Francophone stakeholders
  • Conduct community consultations
  • Adapt iHEAL for language and culture
  • Explore iHEAL's acceptability, feasibility and initial impacts


University of Western Ontario Logo
University of British Columbia Logo
University of New Brunswick logo


Fall 2017

  • To date, the project’s team members have focused on drawing on the “lessons learned” from three previous studies to refine both the intervention and their approach to studying its effects. Across these studies, they have found that women’s quality of life increased and depressive and trauma symptoms decreased immediately after the intervention; these improvements were maintained 6 months later. In interviews, the women were very positive about the intervention and its impact on their lives. 
  • Building on the findings, and feedback from the women, nurses and other staff who participated in the earlier studies, the project’s team members have refined the following aspects of their approach:
    • First, they have consolidated 20 ‘principles’ which guide the intervention to 5 (shown as the ‘roots’ in the iHEAL tree). Most importantly, they have shifted from “woman centered” to “woman-led” as a key principle and grounded the entire intervention in relational practice (shown as the foundation under the roots).
    • Second, they have developed an updated, evidence-based intervention manual and a companion ‘practice guide’ for nurses, integrating suggestions for clearer guidance and easy-to-use tools.
    • Third, iHeal has begun developing a companion workbook for the women that will provide tools and resources to support their health promotion work in the six ‘components’ of the intervention (shown as the branches of the tree).
    • Fourth, the project’s team is now developing a standardized curriculum to prepare the nurses to deliver iHEAL, including on-line modules. Finally, the project is currently refining its research protocol as well.

Winter 2016