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Qualitative study to explore the health and well-being impacts on adults providing informal support to female domestic violence survivors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere014511
Number of pages16
JournalBMJ Open
Volume7
Issue number3
Early online date24 Mar 2017
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Feb 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2017
DatePublished (current) - Mar 2017

Abstract

Objectives
Domestic violence (DV) is hazardous to survivors’ health, both from injuries sustained, and from resultant chronic physical and mental health problems. Support from friends and relatives is significant in the lives of DV survivors; research shows associations between positive support and the health, wellbeing and safety of survivors. Little is known about how people close to survivors are impacted. The aim of this study was exploratory, with the following research question: what are the health and wellbeing impacts on adults who provide informal support to female DV survivors? 
Design
A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews conducted face-to-face, by telephone or using Skype. A thematic analysis of the narratives was carried out.
Setting
Community based, across the UK
Participants
People were eligible to take part if they had had a close relationship (either as friend, colleague or family member) with a woman who had experienced domestic violence, and were aged 16 or over during the time they knew the survivor. Participants were recruited via posters in community venues, social media, and radio advertisement. Twenty-three participants were recruited and interviewed; the majority were female, most were white, and ages ranged from mid-twenties to eighty. 
Results
Generated themes included: negative impacts on psychological and emotional wellbeing of informal supporters, and related physical health impacts. Some psychological impacts were over a limited period, others were chronic, and had the potential to be severe and enduring. The impacts described, suggested that those providing informal support to survivors may be experiencing secondary traumatic stress as they journey alongside the survivor. 
Conclusion
Friends and relatives of DV survivors experience substantial impact on their own health and wellbeing. There are no direct services to support this group. These findings have practical and policy implications so that the needs of informal supporters are legitimised and met.

    Research areas

  • Domestic violence, Informal supporters, Qualitative, Secondary traumatic stress

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    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via BMJ at http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/3/e014511. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

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