This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

CAMHS won't see you now

GPs 'need better training' to help children affected by domestic violence, says study

GPs lack confidence in helping children exposed to domestic violence and need better training to improve support, according to new research from Bristol and Central Lancashire universities.

Writing in the journal Health and Social Care in the Community, the authors point out that although GPs are becoming more aware of patients experiencing domestic violence, the needs of children are often ignored at a time when NSPCC figures suggest that around 20% of children in the UK are exposed to domestic violence. The experts believe that better training, coupled with improved information-sharing between agencies, could help.

The study, ‘Making the links between domestic violence and child safeguarding: An evidence-based pilot training for general practice’, stresses that GPs have insufficient understanding of multi-agency work, a limited competence in gauging thresholds for child protection referral to children’s services and little understanding of outcomes for children.

But the authors point to the development of an evidence-based training intervention on domestic violence and child safeguarding for general practice teams, called RESPONDS (Researching Education to Strengthen Primary care ON Domestic violence and Safeguarding). This is designed to encourage GPS to engage more extensively with adults experiencing abuse, as well as responding directly to the needs of children.

Lead author Dr Eszter Szilassy, from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, in the School of Social and Community Medicine, said: ‘Our research found that, while GPs are fully aware of their child safeguarding responsibilities, they are uncertain about best practice at the interface between child safeguarding and domestic violence. The lack of relevant training contributes to failures to translate child safeguarding knowledge into safe and effective domestic violence-related practice strategies.’

Nicky Stanley, professor of social work at the University of Central Lancashire, said: ‘The research found that GPs were more ready to engage with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence than to talk directly to children or young people about this issue. They need to improve their confidence and skills in relation to this, since children are also their patients.’





Readers' comments (7)

  • Yawn I'm not a social worker or policeman.... Next

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We are ideally placed to deal with and sort out every single thing in the world (and for free too).
    Do all these academics genuinely not see that daily someone else comes out with more of this stuff and we are being expected to be experts on literally everything ever? And we are seemingly responsible if we're not experts or if those people who's job it is don't do that job properly.
    Why does no-one want to be a GP again….?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 'Help children '
    What precisely does that mean?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We have ten minutes a patient. Unless we can cure them in one appointment our job is to sign post them to someone who is an expert and has more time.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • FFS. Agree with all commenters above. My job is to do my best to recognise situations where those unfortunate children children may be at risk and then pass them on to the appropriate authorities. End of.
    Next week- GPs to take over actual firefighting duties in the neighbourhood.
    So called 'academics' at Bristol and Lancashire Universities obviously incapable of seeing the bigger picture out there at the moment

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I don't think this research is necessarily saying that as GPs we should be sorting it all out ourselves. I do think it's saying that we need to have increased awareness of the risk to children in households where there is domestic abuse, whether witnessed by the kids or not. I know that GPs are stretched beyond breaking point but this is about terrified little kids, not a few QOF points

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Why does every study ever done default to this ending. We are GENERAL practioners.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say