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National Addictions Centre news

September 2016

ADVANCE research programme - Could group therapy reduce domestic violence among men in substance use treatment?

A new King’s College London research programme will examine whether group therapy leads to a reduction in domestic violence among men receiving treatment for substance use. 

The ADVANCE research programme, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), starts next month and will bring together researchers, patients and policymakers from across King’s, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, University of Worcester, University of Bristol, University of Manchester, University of York, Rochester Institute of Technology (USA) and RESPECT, the UK membership organisation for work with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims and young people.

 Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) refers to any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. Previous research has found that 40 per cent of men receiving treatment for substance use had been physically or sexually violent towards their partner in the previous year, rising to 70 per cent for psychological abuse - rates far higher than among the general population. 

Despite this, few studies have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of interventions for male substance users who perpetrate IPV. The new five-year research programme will test whether a group therapy that addresses IPV and substance use concurrently reduces IPV carried out by men attending substance use treatment sessions, and whether this leads to a resulting improvement in depressive symptoms among their current and ex-partners.  

Dr Gail Gilchrist, Senior Lecturer, National Addiction Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, will lead this NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research. Dr Gilchrist said: “Substance use is a known risk factor for IPV, yet most perpetrator interventions do not address substance use. This research brings key stakeholders together from both the domestic violence and substance use sectors to develop an evidence based intervention to address both substance use and IPV. We believe that providing integrated interventions that address both IPV and substance use in substance use treatment settings will ensure more perpetrators are reached and better outcomes are achieved for perpetrators, survivors and their children, which should in turn reduce costs for the NHS, social and criminal justice services." 

Collaborators on the project from King’s include Dr Polly Radcliffe, Professor Sir John Strang, Professor Louise Howard and Professor Sabine Landau. Two new members of staff have also been appointed at King’s National Addiction Centre: Juliet Henderson (Project Manager) and Fay Dennis (Research Assistant).  

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