From campus to communities : evaluation of the first UK-based bystander programme for the prevention of domestic violence and abuse in general communities

Gainsbury, Alexa N. and Fenton, Rachel A. and Jones, Cassandra A. (2020) From campus to communities : evaluation of the first UK-based bystander programme for the prevention of domestic violence and abuse in general communities. BMC Public Health, 20 (1). 674. ISSN 1471-2458

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    Abstract

    Background: Violence against women and girls is a public health epidemic. Campus-based research has found bystander programmes show promise as effective primary prevention of sexual violence. However, evidence regarding domestic violence and abuse bystander prevention specifically, and in community settings generally, is still in development. Further, research has predominantly emanated from the US. Examining proof of concept in differing cultural contexts is required. This study evaluates the feasibility and potential for effectiveness of a domestic violence and abuse bystander intervention within UK general communities - Active Bystander Communities. Methods: Participants recruited opportunistically attended a three-session programme facilitated by experts in the field. Programme feasibility was measured using participant attendance and feedback across nine learning objectives. Myth acceptance, bystander efficacy, behavioural intent and bystander behaviours were assessed using validated scales at baseline, post-intervention, and four-month follow-up. Results were examined for potential backlash. Analyses used a paired sample t-test and effect size was quantified with Cohen's d. Results: 58/70 participants attended all programme sessions. Participant feedback consistently rated the programme highly and significant change (p ≤ 0·001) was observed in the desired direction across behavioural intent, bystander efficacy, and myth acceptance scores at post and follow-up. Effect size was generally large and, with the exception of Perception of Peer Myth Acceptance, improved at follow-up. Backlash was minimal. Conclusions: To our knowledge this is the first UK-based study to examine the potential of bystander intervention as a community-level intervention for domestic violence and abuse. Findings are promising and indicate the translatability of the bystander approach to domestic violence and abuse prevention as well as community contexts. This is likely to be of great interest to policymakers and may help shape future community-based interventions. Further research is now needed using experimental designs engaging diverse community audiences.