Making the links between domestic violence and child safeguarding: an evidence-based pilot training for general practice

Eszter Szilassy, Jessica Drinkwater, Marianne Hester, Cath Larkins, Nicky Stanley, William Turner, Gene S Feder

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

8 Citations (Scopus)
472 Downloads (Pure)


We describe the development of an evidence-based training intervention on domestic violence and child safeguarding for general practice teams. We aimed – in the context of a pilot study – to improve knowledge, skills, attitudes and self-efficacy of general practice clinicians caring for families affected by domestic violence. Our evidence sources included: a systematic review of training interventions aiming to improve professional responses to children affected by domestic violence; content mapping of relevant current training in England; qualitative assessment of general practice professionals' responses to domestic violence in families; and a two-stage consensus process with a multi-professional stakeholder group. Data were collected between January and December 2013. This paper reports key research findings and their implications for practice and policy; describes how the research findings informed the training development and outlines the principal features of the training intervention. We found lack of cohesion and co-ordination in the approach to domestic violence and child safeguarding. General practice clinicians have insufficient understanding of multi-agency work, a limited competence in gauging thresholds for child protection referral to children's services and little understanding of outcomes for children. While prioritising children's safety, they are more inclined to engage directly with abusive parents than with affected children. Our research reveals uncertainty and confusion surrounding the recording of domestic violence cases in families' medical records. These findings informed the design of the RESPONDS training, which was developed in 2014 to encourage general practice clinicians to overcome barriers and engage more extensively with adults experiencing abuse, as well as responding directly to the needs of children. We conclude that general practice clinicians need more support in managing the complexity of this area of practice. We need to integrate and further evaluate responses to the needs of children exposed to domestic violence into general practice-based domestic violence training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1722-1732
Number of pages11
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number6
Early online date14 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Structured keywords

  • Gender Research Group


  • domestic violence and abuse
  • child safeguarding
  • child protection
  • training
  • general practice
  • primary care

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