Preventing Domestic Abuse for Children and Young People (PEACH): A Mixed Knowledge Scoping Review

Stanley, Nicky orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7644-1625, Ellis, Jane, Farrelly, Nicola orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9006-335X, Hollinghurst, Sandra, Bailey, Sue and Downe, Soo orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2848-2550 (2015) Preventing Domestic Abuse for Children and Young People (PEACH): A Mixed Knowledge Scoping Review. Project Report. NIHR Journals Library, London, UK.

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Background: A range of interventions that aim to prevent domestic abuse has been developed for children and young people in the general population. While these have been widely implemented, few have been rigorously evaluated. This study aimed to discover what was known about these interventions for children and what worked for whom in which settings.
Review methods: This mixed knowledge review was informed by realist principles and comprised four overlapping phases: an online mapping survey to identify current provision; a systematic review of the existing literature; a review of the UK ‘grey’ literature; and consultation with young people and experts. Information from these four sources of evidence informed analysis of costs and benefits.
Results: The evidence for interventions achieving changes in knowledge and attitudes was stronger than that for behavioural change. Shifting social norms in the peer group emerged as a key mechanism of change. Media campaigns act to influence the wider social climate within which more targeted interventions are received, and they are also a source for programme materials. While most interventions are delivered in secondary schools, they are increasingly targeted at younger children. The review emphasised the importance of a school’s ‘readiness’ to introduce preventative interventions which need to be supported across all aspects of school life. Involving young people in the design and delivery of programmes increases authenticity and this emerged as a key ingredient in achieving impact. Longer interventions delivered by appropriately trained staff appeared likely to be more effective. Teachers emerged as well placed to embed interventions in schools but they require training and support from those with specialist knowledge in domestic abuse. There was evidence that small groups of students who were at higher risk might have accounted for some results regarding effectiveness and that programme effectiveness may vary for certain subgroups. Increasingly, boys are being identified as a target for change. The study identified a need for interventions for disabled children and children and young people from black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee groups and a particular lack of materials designed for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people.
Limitations: Very little evidence was identified on costs and cost-effectiveness. Few studies showed an effect at the level of significance set for the review. Where it did exist, the effect size was small, except in respect of improved knowledge. The inability to calculate a response rate for the mapping survey, which used a snowballing approach, limits the ability to generalise from it.
Conclusions: While it is appropriate to continue to deliver interventions to whole populations of children and young people, effectiveness appeared to be influenced by high-risk children and young people, who should be directed to additional support. Programmes also need to make provision to manage any resulting disclosures. Interventions appear to be context specific, and so those already being widely delivered in the UK and which are likely to be acceptable should be robustly tested.
Funding: The National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research programme.

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