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Exploring primary care responses to domestic violence and abuse (DVA): operationalisation of a national initiative

McGarry, Julie; Hussain, Basharat; Watts, Kim

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Julie McGarry

Kim Watts



In the UK, the Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) initiative has been developed for use within primary care to support women survivors of domestic violence and abuse (DVA). However, while evaluated nationally, less is known regarding impact of implementation at a local level. The purpose of this study was to explore the effectiveness of IRIS within one locality in the UK.


A qualitative study using interviews/focus groups with primary care teams and women who had experienced DVA in one primary care setting in the UK.


Interviews with eighteen participants from five professional categories; including General Practitioners, Practice Nurses, Practice Managers, Assistant Practice Managers and Practice Receptionists. Focus group discussion/interview with seven women who had accessed IRIS. Data collection between November 2016 and March 2017.


Five main themes were identified for professionals: Team role approach to training; Professional confidence; Clear pathway for referral and support; Focused support; Somewhere to meet that is a ‘safe haven’. For women the following themes were identified: Longevity of DVA; Lifeline; Face to face talking to someone; Support and understood where I was coming from; A place of safety.
Implications for practice: IRIS played a significant role in helping primary care professionals to respond effectively. For women IRIS was more proactive and holistic than traditional approaches to DVA.


This study was designed to assess the impact that a local level implementation of the national IRIS initiative had on both providers and users of the service simultaneously. The study identifies that a ‘whole team approach’ in the primary care setting is critical to the effectiveness of DVA initiatives.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 16, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 28, 2019
Publication Date Mar 28, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 17, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 17, 2019
Journal The Journal of Adult Protection
Print ISSN 1466-8203
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 2
Pages 144-154
Keywords Sociology and Political Science; Law
Public URL
Publisher URL


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