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Communication Skills vs. Mindfulness for IPV

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT03672942
Recruitment Status : Not yet recruiting
First Posted : September 17, 2018
Last Update Posted : April 18, 2019
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Julia C. Babcock, University of Houston

Brief Summary:
This tests the immediate impact of two brief interventions on couples reporting intimate partner violence using the proximal change experimental design. Couples will be randomly assigned to a mindfulness conditions, a communication exercise or a placebo condition. Outcome measures include observed and experimentally assessed aggression.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Domestic Violence Domestic Abuse Family Conflict Aggression Behavioral: Communication Skills Training Behavioral: Mindfulness Behavioral: Placebo Not Applicable

Detailed Description:
This pilot study is designed to test the effects of two brief interventions on communication and emotional expression between intimate partners who have experienced recent domestic violence. In addition, it will provide some basic laboratory findings on differences in distress tolerance between perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse. Specifically, using the proximal change experimental design, couples will engaged in a 7.5 minute conflict discussion while being videotaped and having their autonomic responding monitored. Then they will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: a communication skills training exercise, a mindfulness condition, or a placebo control. Next, ,couples will engaged in second 7.5 minute conflict discussion. It is hypothesized that those in both the communication skills training and mindfulness condition will display more positive and less aggressive behavior in their second conflict discussion as compared to their first. It is also expected that they will administer less aggression (as measured by delivery of a loud noise) to their partner after both of the active interventions. In addition, multiple measures of distress tolerance will be administered to both partners. It is expected that couples with a characterologically violent perpetrator, he or she will evidence decreased distress tolerance and the victimized partner will evidence increased distress tolerance

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Estimated Enrollment : 50 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Intervention Model Description: random assignment to two active conditions vs. a placebo control
Masking: Single (Participant)
Masking Description: couples are not informed as to what condition they are assigned
Primary Purpose: Basic Science
Official Title: A Proximal Change Experiment: Testing the Effects of Communication Skills Training vs. Mindfulness Techniques on Intimate Partner Aggression
Estimated Study Start Date : September 15, 2019
Estimated Primary Completion Date : September 15, 2021
Estimated Study Completion Date : September 15, 2022

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Communication Skills
Male and female participants will listen to a description of John Gottman's Gentle Start-up communication skills training exercise and practice the technique in the lab for approximately 8 minutes.
Behavioral: Communication Skills Training
Gentle start-up is one treatment technique in the Creating Healthy Relationship Program written by John Gottman, Ph.D.
Other Name: Gentle Start-up

Experimental: Mindfulness
Male and female participants will listen to a script about Acceptance/Willingness of unwanted emotions written by Amie Zarling and practice this technique in the lab for approximately 8 minutes.
Behavioral: Mindfulness
Acceptance/willingness of unwanted emotions is treatment technique of Achieving Change through Value-Based Behavior (ACTV) written by Amie Zarling, Ph.D.
Other Name: Acceptance/Willingness of unwanted emotions

Placebo Comparator: Placebo
Male and female participants will listen to music in lieu for 8 minutes.
Behavioral: Placebo
Couples randomly assigned to this condition listen to music on headphones. This may be considered an active placebo as it is similar to a Time Out technique taught in battering interventions.
Other Name: Time Out Condition

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Observed aggression [ Time Frame: 10 minutes: Change in observed behavior/emotion from first to second conflict discussion ]
    Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF; Gottman, McCoy, Coan, Collier, 1996). SPAFF categorizes 16 emotions based on facial affect, vocal tone, body language, and content of speech.

  2. TAPS aggression paradigm [ Time Frame: 10 minutes: Change in aggression from first to second conflict discussion ]
    Overt aggression will be assessed using a modified version of the Taylor Aggression Paradigm (TAP; Epstein & Taylor, 1967). The TAP is an established method to study aggression in the laboratory. It is a deceptive, competitive reaction time task in which the participant competes against an "opponent" which is actually the computer program.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 80 Years   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

Adult co-habituating couples Reporting some violence in the past year (score > 0 on CTS2 physical abuse subscale)

Exclusion Criteria:

Homosexual couples Children under 18 non-English speakers

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT03672942

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Contact: Alicia Vargas 713-743-9215

Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Houston
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Principal Investigator: Julia C Babcock, Ph.D. University of Houston

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Responsible Party: Julia C. Babcock, Associate Professor, University of Houston Identifier: NCT03672942     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: STUDY00000975
First Posted: September 17, 2018    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: April 18, 2019
Last Verified: April 2019
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: Yes
Plan Description: Deidentified data will be shared in a data bank.
Supporting Materials: Study Protocol
Statistical Analysis Plan (SAP)
Informed Consent Form (ICF)
Clinical Study Report (CSR)
Time Frame: Data requests will be reviewed by a Data Panel Review Board

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: No
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No

Keywords provided by Julia C. Babcock, University of Houston:
intimate partner violence
batterers intervention
communication skills

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Behavioral Symptoms