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University of Bristol showcases high impact domestic violence and abuse research

9 August 2021

The University of Bristol has featured the work of the Domestic Violence and Health Research Group at the Centre for Academic Primary Care on its new multimedia platform showcasing research that has had significant social impact.

The story told is about the creation and development of a successful intervention, IRIS, which improves GP identification, referral and support of women experiencing domestic abuse.

The intervention provides training for GPs on how to identify and respond to women who are experiencing abuse from an intimate partner, and support from specially trained IRIS Advocate Educators for onward referral to specialist domestic abuse services.

In 2017, a social enterprise, IRISi, was created to enable further scale up of the IRIS programme and implementation of related research.

The IRIS programme is now recommended in Government policy and health guidance in England and Wales, has informed World Health Organization guidelines and is an exemplar for similar initiatives internationally.

Gene Feder, Professor of Primary Care at the University of Bristol, who leads the Domestic Violence and Health Research Group, said: “It has been an incredible journey from the initial trial of the IRIS intervention in 2008 to where we are today. With such an important issue, it would never have been enough to do the trial, publish the paper and move on to the next project. And the work does not stop here. We are continuing our research and adapting the intervention for use in a range of other health settings, including sexual health services, antenatal care and pharmacies. We are also developing and evaluating ongoing support for survivors and their children, as well as trialing REPROVIDE, a perpetrator programme.”

Medina Johnson, CEO of IRISi, said:” “Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) causes profound impacts on women’s health. We know that 80% of women in an abusive relationship seek help from health services and these are often a woman’s first, or only, point of contact. That’s why interventions like the IRIS Programme are critical. When general practice teams are properly equipped, they can better identify and respond to this invisible disease, improving the safety, quality of life and wellbeing of survivors of DVA. Behind every IRIS referral is a woman being provided with validation of her experiences and a safe space to articulate what is happening to her.”

The team’s work is featured alongside that of Professor Marianne Hester and colleagues at the Centre for Gender and Violence Research, which has informed the UK Government’s understanding of justice for domestic violence and abuse survivors.

Further information

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) at the University of Bristol is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. It sits within Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching. Follow us on Twitter: @capcbristol.

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