09:16pm Saturday 11 July 2020

NICE calls for greater awareness about domestic violence and abuse

NICE publishes new guidance today [26 February] which aims to help identify, prevent and reduce domestic violence and abuse. It outlines how health services, social care and the organisations they work with can respond effectively to domestic violence and abuse.

The group which developed the guidance was chaired by Professor Gene Feder from the University of Bristol.

He said: “Domestic violence and abuse are criminal acts that cause long term damage to health and quality of life.  Around one in three women and nearly one in five men will have experienced some form of domestic abuse over their life time.

“Women experiencing domestic violence and abuse have a three times greater risk of depression, four times greater risk of anxiety and seven times greater risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. This guidance promotes a more active role for health and social care services which have always dealt with the consequences of domestic violence, even when professionals did not realise they were happening. We need patients to feel safe to tell us what really happened to them.”

Domestic violence and abuse can be physical abuse, threats, emotional abuse, sexual assault or stalking by a partner, ex-partner or family member. Both men and women may perpetrate domestic violence and abuse, but it is more commonly inflicted on women by men. This is particularly true for severe and repeated violence and sexual assault.

Domestic violence and abuse is far more common than people think – each year at least 1.2 million women and 784,000 men experienced domestic violence and abuse in England and Wales, with one in three women and nearly one in five men experiencing it at some point in their lives.

These figures are likely to underestimate the problem, because all types of domestic violence and abuse are under-reported in health and social research, to the police and other services.

The new NICE guidance on how health services, social care and the organisations they work with can respond effectively to domestic violence and abuse will be published on the NICE website today.

Professor Feder, from the School of Social and Community Medicine, added: “GPs and their teams see families over long periods of time. The doctors and nurse in general practice need training: to ask safely about abuse, about how to respond effectively, and about how to help by getting patients to go to local specialist domestic violence services.  Those services are an essential part of an effective health and social care response to domestic violence and abuse.”

For further information, please see the NICE press release. The guidance is available from the NICE website.


Further information

About NICE

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent body responsible for driving improvement and excellence in the health and social care system. It develops guidance, standards and information on high-quality health and social care. It also advises on ways to promote healthy living and prevent ill health.

Its aim is to help practitioners deliver the best possible care and give people the most effective treatments, which are based on the most up-to-date evidence and provide value for money, in order to reduce inequalities and variation.

Its products and resources are produced for the NHS, local authorities, care providers, charities, and anyone who has a responsibility for commissioning or providing healthcare, public health or social care services.


University of Bristol

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