Domestic Violence and Pregnancy: A CBPR Coalition Approach to Identifying Needs and Informing Policy

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Background: Community engagement—the collaborative process of addressing issues that impact the well-being of a community—is a strategic effort to address community issues. The Gulf States Health Policy Center (GS-HPC) formed the Hattiesburg Area Health Coalition (HAHC) in November 2014 for the purpose of addressing policies impacting the health of Forrest and Lamar counties in Mississippi. Objectives: To chronicle the community-based participatory research (CBPR) process used by HAHC’s identification of infant and maternal health as a policy area, domestic violence in pregnancy as a priority area within infant and maternal health, and a community action plan (CAP) regarding this priority area. Methods: HAHC reviewed data and identified infant and maternal health as a priority area. They then conducted a policy scan of local prenatal health care to determine the policy area of domestic violence in pregnancy. Results: HAHC developed a CAP identifying three goals with regard to domestic violence and pregnancy that together informed policy. Changes included the development of materials specific to resources available in the area. The materials and recommended changes will first be implemented by Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative (SeMRHI) through a screening question for all pregnant patients, and the adoption of policies for providing information and referrals. Conclusions: The lack of community-level data was a challenge to HAHC in identifying focus and priority areas, but this was overcome by shared leadership and community engagement. After completion of the CAP, 100% of expecting mothers receiving prenatal care in the area will be screened for domestic violence.