Training for GP Practices

IRIS – Identification and Referral to Improve Safety

IRIS is a healthcare intervention, designed to improve the primary care response to domestic abuse. The project has been funded locally by the Partnership Development Fund, and has just launched here in Reading and West Berkshire, based with BWA in Reading.

The IRIS intervention provides specialist training and support for GP surgeries. Each practice receives:

  • Practice based training, audit and support
  • A named advocate-educator linked to the practice and based in a specialist domestic abuse service – in this area, BWA. The advocate-educator acts as a consultant to the practice team and is the person to whom patients wanting support are directly referred
  • A prompt (to enquire about DVA and ask a safety question) in the medical record in the form of a pop-up called HARKS
  • Resources for practice staff and patients, including posters and cards

IRIS was the first European randomised control trial of an intervention to improve the healthcare response to Domestic Violence and Abuse. The trial involved 48 practices in Bristol and Hackney during 2007-10. Women patients in the intervention practices were three times more likely to have a record of Domestic Violence and Abuse in their patient record and 22 times more likely to have discussed Domestic Violence and Abuse with their health care professional; six times more likely to be referred for specialist advocacy support. The findings were published in the Lancet, November 2011.

IRIS has also been demonstrated to be cost effective, with both health and societal cost savings, detailed in a paper published in BMJ Open, Summer 2012.

IRIS is a really exciting initiative, which aims to reach women who might not otherwise be able to access – or even be aware of – the specialist Domestic Violence and Abuse support that exists.

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