• A project​ run by IRISi, a social enterprise.
  • Being implemented in general practices across England and Wales.
  • Will help primary care clinicians to identify and support patients experiencing the health impacts of current or past domestic violence and abuse (DVA). 
  • Using social franchising and licensing to scale up and replicate IRIS, a successful general practice-based DVA training, support and referral programme.

One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic violence and abuse (DVA) during their lifetime, with DVA against women being more frequent and more severe. 

DVA has a long-lasting negative impact on the health and wellbeing of those who experience it, and their families. Health care professionals need to be aware that some of their patients will be affected by DVA.

IRIS (Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) is a successful general practice-based DVA training, support and referral programme. It teaches general practice teams how to identify patients experiencing the health impacts of current or past DVA, enquire sensitively, document this in their medical records, and refer them to an IRIS advocate-educator (an experienced trainer and support worker based in a specialist DVA agency). 

Advocate-educators work as trusted, expert members of general practice teams, dealing with referrals and queries on DVA and providing ongoing staff training alongside a clinical lead with a special interest in DVA.

Since 2010 (when the programme could be commissioned), more than 800 general practices in England and Wales have engaged in IRIS training. More than 8,000 patients have been referred to an IRIS advocate-educator and thousands more have been offered signposting and information to enable them to seek support. A randomised controlled trial of IRIS demonstrated its cost-effectiveness and resulting improvements in patients’ quality of life, safety and health.

This project will use best-practice social franchising and licensing protocols to scale up and replicate the IRIS programme. The aim is to maximise the scope of this intervention to support even more women and men experiencing DVA across the UK. 

IRISi, a social enterprise set up in 2017 to house the national IRIS project, will support new sites to engage commissioners, recruit and train delivery staff, and ensure that the quality of the IRIS model is maintained.