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24-10-2011 | General practice | Article

Domestic violence training effective


Free abstract

Training GPs and practice nurses to recognise domestic violence markedly increases referrals of abused women to advocacy and support groups, research shows.

In the Identification and Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) trial, practitioners who were given specialist training were 22 times more likely to refer women experiencing abuse than GPs and nurses without this training.

Lead author Professor Gene Feder (University of Bristol, UK) said: "The IRIS trial shows it is possible to link health services to domestic violence organisations at a time when these organisations, where they exist, are being cut or closed down."

IRIS was a randomised controlled trial conducted at 51 general practices in two urban primary care trusts (Hackney and Bristol). Practices were assigned to intervention or control, whereby intervention comprised practice-based training sessions, a prompt within the medical record to ask about abuse and a referral pathway to a named domestic violence advocate.

There were 641 disclosures of domestic violence resulting in 223 referrals at intervention practices, versus 236 disclosures resulting in 12 referrals at control practices. These differences were highly significant. Importantly, no adverse consequences of the intervention were reported.

The researchers conclude: "Our findings reduce the uncertainty about the benefit of training and support interventions in primary care settings for domestic violence and show that screening of women patients for domestic violence is not a necessary condition for improved identification and referral to advocacy services."

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Joanna Lyford