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International study on gender violence awarded MRC Global Challenges Research funding

5 January 2017

University of Bristol-led research on the primary healthcare response to gender violence in Palestine and Brazil has been awarded almost £600,000 from the Medical Research Council (MRC)’s Global Challenges Research Fund.

The award was made to Professor Gene Feder, an international expert on domestic violence at the Centre for Academic Primary Care in the School of Social and Community Medicine.

Professor Feder will lead an international, multidisciplinary team, including colleagues from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, An Najah National University, Juzoor for Health and Social Development, the University of Sao Paulo, and the World Health Organization (WHO). Together they will develop and evaluate the primary healthcare responses to violence against women in low and middle income countries, with the ultimate aim of ensuring increased safety and better health outcomes.

The study will also test a ‘Health Systems Readiness Tool’ for intimate partner violence, which is currently under development by the WHO. The tool will enable policy makers and health managers to assess what changes to healthcare systems are needed to support appropriate primary healthcare interventions. 

The research will build on the IRIS intervention model developed by Professor Feder in the UK. IRIS was the first European randomised controlled trial of an intervention to improve the healthcare system’s response to patients experiencing domestic violence and abuse. That intervention is now a national programme, commissioned by a growing number of local authorities and clinical commissioning groups.

Professor Feder said: “We are delighted to be one of the first recipients of the MRC’s Global Challenges Research Fund foundation awards. Our research will result in culturally appropriate and adapted interventions to engage doctors and nurses in identifying women patients experiencing violence and abuse, and linking them to services that can support them in Palestine and Brazil. Our learning about what works and how to assess the need for health system changes will also be valuable to other low and middle income countries looking to improve this important part of healthcare.”

Declan Mulkeen, the MRC’s Chief of Strategy said: “The five research councils involved in the Foundation Awards have been working collectively to provide new and broader approaches to meet global research challenges. It’s encouraging to see these projects tackling the broader environmental and economic factors affecting health, as well as using new technologies to bring cost-effective treatments within reach.

“The MRC has a strong track record in Global Health research, often in partnership.  Infectious disease has been the main focus and remains the largest area of funding, but as countries develop, their health needs change.  The Global Challenges Research Fund will enable us to tackle a broader range of health problems, for local and global benefit.”

Further information

The MRC-led Foundation Award is part of the first phase of research funding from the £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund. The 41 Foundation Awards, led by the MRC and supported by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council  (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), have been allocated to support ambitious, novel and distinctive research in non-communicable diseases and infections, with the aim of improving the health and prosperity of low and middle income countries through harnessing the UK’s research expertise.

About Professor Gene Feder. Professor Feder was awarded an OBE in this year's New Year Honours.

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC), University of Bristol is one of the leading centres in the UK which form the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. We conduct high quality research relating to primary care and general practice with a multidisciplinary approach. CAPC is part of the University of Bristol's School of Social and Community Medicine, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for research and teaching in population health sciences.

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