About the project
One in four women in the UK experience abuse from a partner or ex-partner at some time in their lives, they are often isolated and find it difficult to access help or support, thereby remaining at risk. Whilst much is known about the prevalence of domestic violence and abuse and its health consequences, there are important gaps in the evidence about women’s experience of domestic violence and abuse, the barriers, problems and outcomes of help-seeking.
Qualitative studies carried out within the UK are lacking. Further research is also needed into setting up education and training of health professionals to understand and detect domestic violence and abuse and refer women for support. Despite Department of Health guidance clinicians often do not ask about abuse nor respond appropriately to disclosure, indicating a need for improved education and training. Women have difficulty in finding both formal and informal support and the healthtalk website will enable them to witness the stories of others. This may empower them by suggesting options for better self-care and protection from further abuse and may trigger help-seeking. Women who are weighing up the costs of leaving or staying with the perpetrator, will be able to learn from other women's experiences.
The proposed web-based module for survivors of domestic violence and abuse will also provide information about domestic violence and abuse services, links to an online forum for peer support and to other national websites that can help survivors
Research for healthtalk has full ethics committee approval and we have detailed protocols to maximise participants’ safety at all times. Contact will be made with women in the way that they choose, for example a safe mobile phone number. Interviews will be conducted in safe locations that can be decided between the participant and the researcher. If women feel uncomfortable about videos or audio recordings being made available online we will carefully consider the best ways of presenting the information, for example disguising voices or using actors to read transcripts. Healthtalk is non-commercial, ethically funded and accredited for the NHS Information Standard.
Steering Group membership
The purpose of the Steering Group is to provide academic support for all aspects of the study, monitor study progress and assist with dissemination.
Maggie Evans, Research Fellow, Bristol University
Emma Johnson, Research Associate, Bristol University
Gene Feder, Professor of Primary Health Care, Bristol University
Emma Williamson, Senior Research Fellow, Bristol University
Roxane Agnew-Davies, Director of Domestic Violence Training Ltd
Sara Ryan, Senior Research Lead, Health Experiences Research Group (HERG), Oxford University
Sue Ziebland, Professor of Medical Sociology, Oxford University
Helen Salisbury, Medical Advisor, HERG, Oxford University
Morgan Fackrell, CEO, Cardiff Women’s Aid
Fiona Duxbury, GP Principal 1986-2014, now GPwSI with Oxford NHS Foundation Trust
Advisory panel membership
The panel includes professional and lay members, women survivors of domestic abuse, representatives from support groups and domestic violence agencies, researchers and health professionals. The role of the panel is to attend meetings during the study and respond to requests from the researchers by email or phone for advice on their area of expertise; for example, helping recruit participants for the project, reviewing topic summaries for the websites in their area of interest, and promoting the module amongst colleagues and contacts.
- To increase public and professional awareness of physical, sexual, reproductive and psychological health consequences of domestic violence and abuse based on narrative accounts of women’s experiences.
- To further our understanding of barriers and challenges facing women in help-seeking and the trajectories, safety and health outcomes for women who do and do not seek help.
- To offer a methodology for translating qualitative research data into a resource that is directly relevant and accessible to patients, will inform policy makers and help train health professionals and others involved in their care. The study will be published online as part of the award-winning websitewww.healthtalkonline.org - a growing resource that specialises in disseminating qualitative studies of experiences of health and illness. The site currently covers over 70 health conditions and receives over 5 million hits per month.
- Use qualitative interviews to collect women’s experiences of domestic violence and abuse
- Identify problems and issues women face for their physical and psychological health
- Identify barriers and facilitators regarding seeking help for health problems, social isolation and relationship issues including, for example, professional collusion and victim blaming
- Understand the trajectories of women over time, including interventions that had positive and negative outcomes
- Identify the lessons learned that might be helpful to others in dealing with the health consequences of domestic violence and abuse and recommend strategies for promoting women’s safety and wellbeing
- Provide the basis for a new section of the websitewww.healthtalkonline.org
- Provide a resource for the education of health, social care and other professionals working in the field
- Provide a specialised resource to contribute to the education of medical students