Cry for health: a quantitative evaluation of a hospital-based advocacy intervention for domestic violence and abuse

Gemma Halliwell*, Sandi Dheensa, Elisabetta Fenu, Sue K. Jones, Jessica Asato, Suzanne Jacob, Gene Feder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
290 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Domestic violence and abuse (DVA) damages the health of survivors and increases use of healthcare services. We report findings from a multi-site evaluation of hospital-based advocacy services, designed to support survivors attending emergency departments and maternity services. Methods: Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA) were co-located in five UK hospitals. Case-level data were collected at T1 (initial referral) and T2 (case closure) from survivors accessing hospital (T1 N = 692; T2 N = 476) and community IDVA services (T1 N = 3544; T2 N = 2780), used as a comparator. Measures included indicators of sociodemographic characteristics, experience of abuse, health service use, health and safety outcomes. Multivariate analyses tested for differences in changes in abuse, health and factors influencing safety outcomes. Health service use data in the 6 months pre-and post- intervention were compared to generate potential cost savings by hospital IDVA services. Results: Hospital IDVAs worked with survivors less visible to community IDVA services and facilitated intervention at an earlier point. Hospital IDVAs received higher referrals from health services and enabled access to a greater number of health resources. Hospital survivors were more likely to report greater reductions in and cessation of abuse. No differences were observed in health outcomes for hospital survivors. The odds of safety increased two-fold if hospital survivors received over five contacts with an IDVA or accessed six or more resources / programmes over a longer period of time. Six months preceding IDVA intervention, hospital survivors cost on average £2463 each in use of health services; community survivors cost £533 each. The cost savings observed among hospital survivors amounted to a total of £2050 per patient per year. This offset the average cost of providing hospital IDVA services. Conclusions: Hospital IDVAs can identify survivors not visible to other services and promote safety through intensive support and access to resources. The co-location of IDVAs within the hospital encouraged referrals to other health services and wider community agencies. Further research is required to establish the cost-effectiveness of hospital IDVA services, however our findings suggest these services could be an efficient use of health service resources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number718 (2019)
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2019


  • Domestic violence and abuse
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Advocacy
  • Healthcare response
  • Accident and emergency (ED)


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