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Adapting domestic abuse training to remote delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study of views from general practice and support services

Emsley, E., Szilassy, E., Dowrick, A. , Dixon, S., De Simoni, A., Downes, L., Johnson, M., Feder, G., Griffiths, C., Panovska-Griffiths, J., Barbosa Capelas, E. ORCID: 0000-0001-8282-131X & Wileman, V. (2023). Adapting domestic abuse training to remote delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study of views from general practice and support services. British Journal of General Practice, 73(732), e519-e527. doi: 10.3399/bjgp.2022.0570


BACKGROUND: Identifying and responding to patients affected by domestic violence and abuse (DVA) is vital in primary care. There may have been a rise in the reporting of DVA cases during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown measures. Concurrently general practice adopted remote working that extended to training and education. IRIS (Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) is an example of an evidence-based UK healthcare training support and referral programme, focusing on DVA. IRIS transitioned to remote delivery during the pandemic.

AIM: To understand the adaptations and impact of remote DVA training in IRIS-trained general practices by exploring perspectives of those delivering and receiving training.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Qualitative interviews and observation of remote training of general practice teams in England were undertaken.

METHOD: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 participants (three practice managers, three reception and administrative staff, eight general practice clinicians, and seven specialist DVA staff), alongside observation of eight remote training sessions. Analysis was conducted using a framework approach.

RESULTS: Remote DVA training in UK general practice widened access to learners. However, it may have reduced learner engagement compared with face-to-face training and may challenge safeguarding of remote learners who are domestic abuse survivors. DVA training is integral to the partnership between general practice and specialist DVA services, and reduced engagement risks weakening this partnership.

CONCLUSION: The authors recommend a hybrid DVA training model for general practice, including remote information delivery alongside a structured face-to-face element. This has broader relevance for other specialist services providing training and education in primary care.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Authors This article is Open Access: CC BY 4.0 licence (
Publisher Keywords: COVID-19; domestic violence; general practice; qualitative research; SARS-CoV-2; training activities
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Violence and Society Centre
SWORD Depositor:
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