Citing an analogy used by those in public health fields, Tina Bloom explains that health providers wait on the banks of the river to rescue people who have fallen in and are drowning. But Bloom wants to help more and help earlier. “At some point, you start to think about what’s happening upriver,” she says. As an assistant professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing, her research focuses on safety planning for women in abusive relationships; specifically, she is designing and testing a website that might help women find ways to lessen their danger.
Only after encountering problems do many state and federal agencies call upon the expertise of social scientists for help, and Rikoon wishes they would ask for help while they set up a project—rather than afterward—to make sure the process fits with local norms.
The new program is a revamped version of the original prototype that Bloom helped design in Oregon. With a high number of rural Missouri residents participating in the current project, Bloom is excited about the possibilities: “I hope we can show that this is particularly helpful for rural women who can’t get to other resources.”
Typically, health care providers and women’s advocates sit down with one woman at a time to evaluate her priorities. Bloom walks through the latest version of the web-based decision aid she has helped to develop as a way to reach more women and yet provide individualized treatment.