Trends in outcomes used to measure the effectiveness of domestic and sexual violence and abuse services: a scoping review

In the UK, domestic and sexual violence and abuse (DSVA) is prevalent, and a range of support services and interventions are available to those who have experienced or perpetrated it. Currently, there is no consensus on how the effectiveness and impact of these services should be measured, nor is it clear what outcomes and outcome measures are currently being used by service providers and researchers.

In 2022, VISION researchers, led by Dr Sophie Carlisle, co-designed and conducted a scoping review with an advisory group of representatives from six UK-based DSVA organisations, to summarise, map and identify trends in outcome measures used in evaluations and studies of DSVA services and interventions in the UK.

They searched eight databases, four grey literature databases, put out a call for evidence and searched relevant DSVA websites and identified a total of 80 studies describing 87 interventions and services that were relevant to the review.

A total of 426 outcome measures were extracted, of these there were 282 unique outcome measures. The most commonly used outcome, reported in 11 studies, was the cessation of abuse, as measured by the Severity of Abuse Grid. Over time, both the number of studies and the variety of outcome measures has increased.

This research highlights inconsistencies in measurements of effectiveness in evaluations of DSVA services and research. As this area matures, there is an increased need for a core of common, reliable metrics.

For further information please see: Trends in outcomes used to measure the effectiveness of UK-based support interventions and services targeted at adults with experience of domestic and sexual violence and abuse: a scoping review | BMJ Open

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Referral outcomes for victim-survivors of sexual violence accessing specialist services

Sexual violence and abuse (SVA) is highly prevalent globally, has devastating and wide-ranging effects on victim-survivors, and demands the provision of accessible specialist support services.

In the UK, Rape Crisis England & Wales (RCEW), a voluntary third sector organization, is the main provider of specialist SVA services. Understanding the profile of victim-survivors who are referred to RCEW and their referral outcomes is important for the effective allocation of services.

Using administrative data collected by three Rape Crisis Centres in England between April 2016 and March 2020, VISION researchers Annie Bunce, Niels Blom and Estela Capelas Barbosa, used multinomial regression analysis to examine the determinants of victim-survivors’ referral outcomes, controlling for a wide range of potentially confounding variables.

They discovered that support needs, more so than the type of abuse experienced, predicted whether victim-survivors were engaged with services. Particularly, the presence of mental health, substance misuse and social, emotional, and behavioral needs were important for referral outcomes. The referral source also influenced referral outcomes, and there were some differences according to demo-graphic characteristics and socioeconomic factors.

This research was co-produced with stakeholders from RCEW, who informed interpretation of these findings.

For further information please see: Determinants of Referral Outcomes for Victim–Survivors Accessing Specialist Sexual Violence and Abuse Support Services (

Or contact Annie at  

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Working with specialist services’ administrative data

VISION researchers Dr Annie Bunce and Dr Estela Capelas Barbosa have been working with administrative data provided by specialist domestic and sexual violence and abuse (DSVA) support services.

Whilst the wealth and breadth of the data collected creates exciting opportunities for improving our understanding of patterns in experiences of violence and service use, the process of preparing the data for analysis has its challenges. Such challenges- and potential strategies for overcoming them- are not well documented, creating missed opportunities for improving the utilisation of specialist services’ data.

In their new publication, Annie and Estela, along with City, University of London PhD student, Katie Smith, and Dr Sophie Carlisle, a former VISION researcher, reviewed the scope and merits of administrative data generally, and that collected by specialist DSVA services specifically, and the evidence to date for its use by researchers.

They found that the extent to which new insights on violence from specialist services’ data can be used to inform policy and practice is limited by three interrelated challenges: different approaches to the measurement of violence and abuse; the issue of disproportionate funding and capacity of services, and the practicalities of multi-agency working.

Nonetheless, the authors maintain the unique contribution to knowledge on violence that can be provided by DSVA services’ administrative data, and are hopeful that the paper will encourage further discussion about how to better utilise it. Additional resources, collaboration between multiple agencies, service providers and researchers, and the integration of specialist services’ data with other sources of data on violence are needed to maximise policy impact. Given the benefits individuals and society stand to gain, this is a worthwhile endeavour.

For further information please see: Challenges of using specialist domestic and sexual violence and abuse service data to inform policy and practice on violence reduction in the UK in: Journal of Gender-Based Violence – Ahead of print (

Or contact Dr Annie Bunce at

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