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15 April 2024

£3.2m funding to test the ADVANCE-D Programme for men with substance use problems serving community sentences for partner abuse

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has awarded £3.2 million funding to principal investigator, Professor Gail Gilchrist (King’s College London) and team to trial a behaviour change intervention designed to reduce partner abuse by men with substance use problems.

Violence and abuse

The study, known as the ADVANCE-D Programme, will follow 450 men with substance use problems serving a community sentence for abuse towards a female current or ex-partner over the course of 24 months, and will build on previous research by the team.

Partner abuse includes physical, sexual, emotional, financial and psychological abuse and controlling behaviours by a current or ex-partner. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women in the UK have experienced partner abuse in their lifetime, with 1.4 million women in England and Wales experiencing partner abuse in the past year. Sadly, 8 women each month are killed by a current or ex-partner in England and Wales.

While no single risk factor explains why some men are abusive towards their partner, there is a strong correlation between the use of abusive behaviours and substance use - substance dependent men are seven times more likely to be arrested for domestic abuse. They are also the most likely to drop-out of domestic abuse perpetrator programmes, highlighting the need for tailored interventions such as the ADVANCE-D Programme.

Over the next four years, Professor Gail Gilchrist will work with co-lead Professor Liz Gilchrist (University of Edinburgh) and co-investigators Professor David Gadd (University of Manchester), Professor Amanda Robinson (Cardiff University), Dr Polly Radcliffe (King’s College London), Professor Ben Carter (King’s Clinical Trial Unit) and Steve Parrott (University of York).

“Our previous research has identified the need for targeted approaches to address partner violence by men who use substances, a group often excluded from existing perpetrator programmes. In a small study we found reductions in abusive behaviour at the end of the ADVANCE-D Programme for men in substance use treatment settings, so we are excited to be conducting a trial of ADVANCE-D in a large sample of 450 men on probation for partner abuse. This funding will allow us to test whether our ADVANCE-D Programme is more effective and cost effective at reducing abusive behaviours than usual community offender management for men with substance use problems serving community sentences for partner abuse in the short, medium and longer term. If ADVANCE-D is effective, men would have healthier relationships and not reoffend. It would also improve the safety and wellbeing of women and children, which is the overall aim of this research.”

Professor Gail Gilchrist, Professor of Addictions Healthcare Research and lead investigator, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London

Researchers will conduct a trial to compare the short (4 months), medium (12 months) and long-term (24 months) outcomes of the ADVANCE-D Programme with usual community justice offender management for 450 men who use substances serving a community sentence for partner abuse who are subject to probation/justice social work supervision and unsuitable for existing probation-based perpetrator interventions.

32 areas in the UK will be allocated by chance to provide either ADVANCE-D (16 areas) or their usual offender management (16 areas) to men on probation or parole for partner abuse. Men and their current or ex-partners will be followed-up after 4 and 12 months to explore changes in their relationships, use of abusive behaviours, substance use and wellbeing. After 24 months, the participants will be followed up in routinely collected data to determine reoffending rates and longer-term substance use and health outcomes. Approval has been granted by HMPPS to conduct the pilot trial in the North West of England.

The 14-week ADVANCE-D Programme was previously developed with funding from the NIHR to address the complex interplay between substance use and partner abuse identified in the team’s previous research – including intoxication, craving, withdrawal and when acquiring substances - and the dynamics of power and control. It targets individual risks for partner abuse, including substance use, poor emotional regulation, and poor stress-coping, and teaches men how to reduce these risks by promoting self-regulation (ability to alter a response or override a thought, feeling, or impulse) and personal goal setting. ADVANCE-D comprises seven fortnightly group sessions, with weekly self-practice website sessions and individual coaching calls to build on the materials delivered in the group. ADVANCE-D teaches why some men are abusive to their female partners and how substance use may influence abusive behaviour. Men also learn and practice how to better manage their emotions and stress to reduce being abusive. Men’s current and ex-partners are offered support.

“ADVANCE-D can be delivered fully remote, offering geographical and language flexibility. There is a suite of options available, providing flexibility for delivering groups and coaching calls in person or online or to complete self-practice website sessions remotely or in services. We have developed online training with certification for staff to ensure competency in delivering ADVANCE-D across facilitators and partner support workers” (Professor Liz Gilchrist, Professor of Psychological Therapies and co-lead investigator and ADVANCE-D clinical lead, University of Edinburgh)


For more information, please contact Emily Webb (School Communications Manager - Academic Psychiatry)

In this story

Gail Gilchrist

Professor in Addictions Healthcare Research

Ben Carter

Professor of Medical Statistics

Polly Radcliffe

Senior Research Fellow