The aim of the RESPONDS study was to bridge the knowledge and practice gap between domestic violence and child safeguarding.

We developed an evidence-base for training and developed, piloted and evaluated a new multi-component training intervention for general practice teams. The RESPONDS training pack was designed and developed collaboratively using multi-professional expertise from health, research, training and practice in domestic violence and child safeguarding.

The training was based on the integration of various research evidence streams, including a systematic review of educational interventions to improve professional responses to children affected by domestic violence, qualitative interviews with 69 general practice professionals, a review of current training materials and a consensus process with experts on domestic violence, health and child safeguarding.

Integration featured in the structure as well as content and delivery method of the training (multi-professional delivery by a health and a local social care professional): our strategy was to model integrated working between services through the structure of training delivery.

By linking domestic violence and child safeguarding, the RESPONDS training – in the context of a pilot study – aimed to improve knowledge, skills, attitudes and self-efficacy of general practice clinicians towards the management of children exposed to domestic violence and abuse.

After the RESPONDS training primary care clinicians were more confident in knowing how to proceed in a consultation when they suspected exposure of children to domestic violence and abuse or this was disclosed and the appropriate next steps. They had a greater awareness of current relevant service provision and referral routes. Training participants also reported increased willingness to engage directly with children and to discuss this appropriately with their non-abusive parent.

Before [the training] I might have felt very uncomfortable, I might have glossed over it a bit, but I was able to say to Mum, “Can you tell me about the shouting he's talking about?” Which was quite a tense moment for all of us, and she was quite honest about it.

GP, RESPONDS training participant

If I saw children with disturbed behaviour I tended not to think whether it could be due to difficulties at home. Which is awful isn't it? And I think that [the training] completely changed my mind.

GP, RESPONDS training participant

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