Open Access Research article

Priorities for research in child maltreatment, intimate partner violence and resilience to violence exposures: results of an international Delphi consensus development process

C Nadine Wathen1*, Jennifer CD MacGregor1, Joanne Hammerton1, Jeffrey H Coben2, Helen Herrman3, Donna E Stewart4, Harriet L MacMillan5 and for the PreVAiL Research Network6

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Information & Media Studies, Western University, London, ON, Canada

2 Departments of Emergency Medicine and Community Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

3 Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

4 Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

5 Departments of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences, and of Pediatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

6 McMaster University, Hamilton ON, University of Toronto, Toronto ON, and Western University, London, ON, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:684  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-684

Published: 21 August 2012



Intimate partner violence (IPV) and child maltreatment (CM) are major global public health problems. The Preventing Violence Across the Lifespan (PreVAiL) Research Network, an international group of over 60 researchers and national and international knowledge-user partners in CM and IPV, sought to identify evidence-based research priorities in IPV and CM, with a focus on resilience, using a modified Delphi consensus development process.


Review of existing empirical evidence, PreVAiL documents and team discussion identified a starting list of 20 priorities in the following categories: resilience to violence exposure (RES), CM, and IPV, as well as priorities that cross-cut the content areas (CC), and others specific to research methodologies (RM) in violence research. PreVAiL members (Nā€‰=ā€‰47) completed two online survey rounds, and one round of discussions via three teleconference calls to rate, rank and refine research priorities.


Research priorities were: to examine key elements of promising or successful programmes in RES/CM/IPV to build intervention pilot work; CC: to integrate violence questions into national and international surveys, and RM: to investigate methods for collecting and collating datasets to link data and to conduct pooled, meta and sub-group analyses to identify promising interventions for particular groups.


These evidence-based research priorities, developed by an international team of violence, gender and mental health researchers and knowledge-user partners, are of relevance for prevention and resilience-oriented research in the areas of IPV and CM.