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REPROVIDE study awarded Urgent Public Health Research national priority status during COVID-19

3 June 2020

The REPROVIDE study, led by Professor Gene Feder at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, is one of two studies to have been awarded Urgent Public Health Research national priority status by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) today [3 June].

The study, which has been re-purposed to respond to COVID-19, tests the effectiveness of group sessions for men who are concerned about their abusive behaviour in relationships with women.

The randomised controlled trial, funded by NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research, is aiming to recruit 336 men plus their current or ex-partners from the South West region and South Wales.

The men in the intervention arm will take part in behaviour change sessions with the aim of stopping their abuse, while their current or ex-partners will get support as part of the intervention. Outcome measures include abusive behaviour, mental health and wellbeing of current or ex-partners and their families.

Professor Feder, a GP and Professor of Primary Care at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, said: “The necessary social isolation policy implemented in the UK and globally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has both increased domestic abuse and highlighted its longstanding prevalence in all societies.

“Effective support for survivors of domestic abuse is not enough. We need to prevent persistence and recurrence of abuse by working with perpetrators who want to change their behaviour. And we need to adapt our methods to fit new ways of working and meeting in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

The NIHR is ramping up its support for research on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health by seeking to fund new research on the acute mental health effects of the pandemic and offering priority delivery support for research on severe mental health problems.

Research to date shows that the COVID-19 pandemic is having negative effects on individual and population mental health, as well as increases in domestic abuse. Emerging findings from general population surveys have highlighted increased levels of anxiety and depression compared with usual levels and negative effects of lockdown on wellbeing.

Urgent Public Health Research national priority status is now available to research on severe mental health problems, expanding the scope beyond studies on COVID-19 therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics.

To support this research response, the NIHR has issued a new call for research proposals on rapid identification and mitigation of the acute mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, said: “The challenges of COVID-19 and the necessary actions taken by all of us to slow its spread have had a profound effect on the way we live our lives. As lockdowns begin to ease, the impacts of these changes are likely to linger for months, if not years, to come.

“The research funded by this call will help us to understand the scope of these effects on our mental health, within a timeframe that will enable these findings to benefit those most in need.”

The NIHR will shortly be inviting applications to better understand and manage the health and social care consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic beyond the acute phase, through its COVID-19 Recovery and Learning call. This call will also accept mental health research proposals, although the focus will be on projects that will deliver outcomes within 24 months.

For more information, see NIHR news.

The REPROVIDE study is currently looking to recruit men to the trial. If you would like to take part, please contact All correspondence will be treated in confidence.

Further information

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care
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.

Find out more about our COVID-19 research.

Support University of Bristol COVID-19 research 
University of Bristol researchers are part of a global network of scientists responding urgently to the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. Find out how you can support their critical work.

About the National Institute for Health Research
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy.

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.

See: NIHR's response to COVID-19

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