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Feasibility of a reconfigured domestic violence and abuse training and support intervention responding to affected women, men, children and young people through primary care

Szilassy, E., Coope, C., Emsley, E. , Williamson, E., Barbosa Capelas, E. ORCID: 0000-0001-8282-131X, Johnson, M., Dowrick, A. & Feder, G. (2024). Feasibility of a reconfigured domestic violence and abuse training and support intervention responding to affected women, men, children and young people through primary care. BMC Primary Care, 25(1), article number 38. doi: 10.1186/s12875-023-02249-5


Identification in UK general practice of women affected by domestic violence and abuse (DVA) is increasing, but men and children/young people (CYP) are rarely identified and referred for specialist support. To address this gap, we collaborated with IRISi (UK social enterprise) to strengthen elements of the IRIS + intervention which included the identification of men, direct engagement with CYP, and improved guidance on responding to information received from other agencies. IRIS + was an adaptation of the national IRIS (Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) model focused on the needs of women victim-survivors of DVA. Without diminishing the responses to women, IRIS + also responded to the needs of men experiencing or perpetrating DVA, and CYP living with DVA and/or experiencing it in their own relationships. Our study tested the feasibility of the adapted IRIS + intervention in England and Wales between 2019–21.

We used mixed method analysis to triangulate data from various sources (pre/post intervention questionnaires with primary care clinicians; data extracted from medical records and DVA agencies; semi-structured interviews with clinicians, service providers and referred adults and children) to assess the feasibility and acceptability of the IRIS + intervention.

The rate of referral for women doubled (21.6/year/practice) from the rate (9.29/year/practice) in the original IRIS trial. The intervention also enabled identification and direct referral of CYP (15% of total referrals) and men (mostly survivors, 10% of total referrals). Despite an increase in self-reported clinician preparedness to respond to all patient groups, the intervention generated a low number of men perpetrator referrals (2% of all referrals). GPs were the principal patient referrers. Over two-thirds of referred women and CYP and almost half of all referred men were directly supported by the service. Many CYP also received IRIS + support indirectly, via the referred parents. Men and CYP supported by IRIS + reported improved physical and mental health, wellbeing, and confidence.

Although the study showed acceptability and feasibility, there remains uncertainty about the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and scalability of IRIS + . Building on the success of this feasibility study, the next step should be trialling the effectiveness of IRIS + implementation to inform service implementation decisions.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2024. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Publisher Keywords: Domestic violence and abuse, Women and men victim-survivors, Women and men perpetrators, Children and young people, Training, Intervention, General Practice, Primary Care, Feasibility study
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Violence and Society Centre
SWORD Depositor:
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