Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Latina Women: Examining the Efficacy of the Moms’ Empowerment Program

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Abstract

Objective: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health problem, affecting every 1 in 4 women in their lifetime. Latinas have been found to experience IPV at rates equal to or even higher than rates in the general population. The consequences of experiencing such violence can be severe, and result in increased risk for developing both physical and mental health problems, notably, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although treatments for PTSD in IPV-exposed women have been developed and evaluated, this is the first study to test the efficacy of a program tailored specifically to meet the needs of Latinas who experience IPV. Method: This study examines the efficacy of a Spanish-language adaptation of the Moms’ Empowerment Program, a 10-week group treatment program for IPV-exposed women. A total of 93 low-income, mostly immigrant Latinas were included in this community trial. All women were Spanish-speaking, and information about violence exposure and PTSD symptoms were collected immediately before and after the implementation of the intervention. Results: Findings show that women who participated in the intervention had a significantly greater reduction in PTSD symptoms than women in the wait-list comparison group. Specific reductions by symptom domains were also analyzed. Conclusions: This adaptation of a program designed to reduce problems associated with experiencing IPV addressed several mental health treatment needs for Latinas, particularly the need for services in Spanish. These findings demonstrate that it is possible to tailor current treatment programs for IPV in ways that are both effective and culturally sensitive.

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