Study 3: Randomised controlled trial of a psychological intervention delivered by specialist DV advocates (Psychological Advocacy Towards Healing: PATH)

The trial

Psychological Advocacy Towards Healing (PATH) is an individually randomised two-arm controlled trial of a psychological intervention delivered by domestic violence advocates to women entering specialist domestic violence and abuse (DVA) services in Bristol and Cardiff respectively.

Two hundred and fifty women aged 16 years or older experiencing domestic violence were enrolled and randomly allocated to receive either usual DVA service support (control) or usual DVA service support plus the psychological intervention (intervention). Those in the intervention arm received eight ‘Specialist Psychological Advocacy (‘SPA’) sessions weekly, with a further 2 sessions one and three months later. This was in addition to any usual advocacy support sessions the woman received. Women in the control group received usual DVA service support but no additional SPA sessions.

Women taking part in the study were followed up with questionnaires measuring violence, quality of life and mental health at 4,8 and 12 months after recruitment. The trial design was piloted in the Bristol centre, which allowed the research team to modify the trial protocol in light of the pilot findings. The main trial commenced in April 2011 with the last woman enrolled into the programme in June 2013.


Systematic reviews on the effectiveness of domestic violence advocacy, and Gene Feder’s collaboration with Roxane Agnew Davies, Debbie Sharp and other colleagues on the IRIS trial and its pilot highlighted the need to integrate psychological support with advocacy to improve outcomes for women. 

Our collaborators

The trial was overseen by the following committees:

Carol Metters - Director,
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Morgan Fackrell - Director, 
Cardiff Women’s Aid

Data Safety Monitoring & Ethics Committee 
Independent Trial Steering Committee



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