Interventions to support recovery after domestic and sexual violence in primary care Academic Article uri icon


  • Experiences of domestic and sexual violence are common in patients attending primary care. Most often they are not identified due to barriers to asking by health practitioners and disclosure by patients. Women are more likely than men to experience such violence and present with mental and physical health symptoms to health practitioners. If identified through screening or case finding as experiencing violence they need to be supported to recover from these traumas. This paper draws on systematic reviews published in 2013-2015 and a further literature search undertaken to identify recent intervention studies relevant to recovery from domestic and sexual violence in primary care. There is limited evidence as to what interventions in primary care assist with recovery from domestic violence; however, they can be categorized into the following areas: first line response and referral, psychological treatments, safety planning and advocacy, including through home visitation and peer support programmes, and parenting and mother-child interventions. Sexual violence interventions usually include trauma informed care and models to support recovery. The most promising results have been from nurse home visiting advocacy programmes, mother-child psychotherapeutic interventions, and specific psychological treatments (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Trauma informed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and, for sexual assault, Exposure and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Interventions). Holistic healing models have not been formally tested by randomized controlled trials, but show some promise. Further research into what supports women and their children on their trajectory of recovery from domestic and sexual violence is urgently needed.

publication date

  • 2016