Purpose Approximately 35% of Latinas living in the United States experience intimate partner violence (IPV), with known severe negative outcomes. One consequence is depression, which disproportionately affects IPV-exposed Latinas. This study tested the effectiveness of the Moms’ Empowerment Program (MEP), a culturally adapted psychotherapeutic intervention, to reduce depressed affect among IPV-exposed Spanish-speaking Latina mothers. Additional psychosocial predictors of levels of depressed affect over time are examined, including levels of post-traumatic stress, IPV exposure, positive parenting, parental acceptance of children’s negative emotions, and maternal employment.
Method Participants (n=72) were Latinas with children who had been exposed to IPV. Women were assigned to a treatment or a waitlist comparison condition, and those in the treatment group completed a 10 week group intervention in Spanish addressing the unique problems associated with IPV exposure, mental health, and parenting among Latinas. Multilevel modelling was used to examine women’s changes in depressed affect over time.
Results Results revealed that participation in the MEP was associated with significant reductions in depressed affect. Lower levels of post-traumatic stress and higher levels of positive parenting, maternal acceptance of children’s negative emotions, and maternal employment predicted lower levels of depressed affect.
Conclusion The MEP is a culturally adapted, economic, brief, and effective treatment option to reduce depressed affect in IPV-exposed, Spanish-speaking Latinas.
Contributions As Latinas are at disproportionate risk for depression following IPV, these findings make an important contribution to violence interventions to improve the lives of Spanish-speaking women experiencing IPV. The MEP’s manualized format makes it appropriate for use in a broad range of community settings, which may increase access to care. Prior studies have shown that depression in this population is more likely to be undiagnosed, the availability of the MEP in agencies serving Latinas who experience IPV may reduce psychopathology that would otherwise have gone untreated.
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