Sharing reports about domestic violence and abuse with general practitioners: a qualitative interview study

Kate S Pitt*, Sandi Dheensa, Gene S Feder, Emma C Johnson, Mei-See Man, Jessica Roy, Emma Williamson, Eszter Szilassy

*Corresponding author for this work

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

3 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


Domestic violence and abuse (DVA) is common and damaging to health. UK national guidance advocates a multi-agency response to DVA, and domestic homicide reviews consistently recommend improved information-sharing between agencies. Identification of patients experiencing DVA in general practice may come from external information shared with the practice, such as police incident reports and multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) reports. The aim of this study was to explore the views of general practitioners (GPs) and the police about sharing reports about DVA with GPs.

Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with GPs, police staff and a partnership manager. Participants were located across England and Wales. Thematic analysis was undertaken.

Interviews were conducted with 23 GPs, six police staff and one former partnership manager. Experiences of information-sharing with GPs about DVA varied. Participants described the relevance and value of external reports to GPs to help address the health consequences of DVA and safeguard patients. They balanced competing priorities when managing this information in the electronic medical record, namely visibility to GPs versus the risk of unintended disclosure to patients. GPs also spoke of the judgements they made about exploring DVA with patients based on external reports, which varied between abusive and non-abusive adults and children. Some felt constrained by short general practice consultations. Some police and GPs reflected on a loss of control when information about DVA was shared between agencies, and the risk of unintended consequences. Both police and GPs highlighted the importance of clear information and a shared understanding about responsibility for action.

GPs regarded external reports about DVA as relevant to their role, but safely recording this information in the electronic medical record and using it to support patients required complex judgements. Both GPs and police staff emphasised the importance of clarity of information and responsibility for action when information was shared between agencies about patients affected by DVA.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117 (2020)
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Family Practice
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2020


  • Domestic violence and abuse (DVA)
  • Intimate partner violence (IPV)
  • information-sharing
  • multi-agency
  • general practice
  • primary care
  • police
  • electronic medical records (EMR)


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