Developing a programme theory to explain how primary health care teams learn to respond to intimate partner violence: a realist case-study

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Title: Developing a programme theory to explain how primary health care teams learn to respond to intimate partner violence: a realist case-study
Authors: Goicolea, Isabel | Hurtig, Anna-Karin | San Sebastián, Miguel | Vives-Cases, Carmen | Marchal, Bruno
Research Group/s: Salud Pública
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Enfermería Comunitaria, Medicina Preventiva y Salud Pública e Historia de la Ciencia
Keywords: Realist evaluation | Intimate partner violence | Primary health care teams | Team learning | Case study | Spain
Knowledge Area: Medicina Preventiva y Salud Pública
Issue Date: 9-Jun-2015
Publisher: BioMed Central
Citation: BMC Health Services Research. 2015, 15: 228. doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0899-8
Abstract: Background: Despite the progress made on policies and programmes to strengthen primary health care teams’ response to Intimate Partner Violence, the literature shows that encounters between women exposed to IPV and health-care providers are not always satisfactory, and a number of barriers that prevent individual health-care providers from responding to IPV have been identified. We carried out a realist case study, for which we developed and tested a programme theory that seeks to explain how, why and under which circumstances a primary health care team in Spain learned to respond to IPV. Methods: A realist case study design was chosen to allow for an in-depth exploration of the linkages between context, intervention, mechanisms and outcomes as they happen in their natural setting. The first author collected data at the primary health care center La Virgen (pseudonym) through the review of documents, observation and interviews with health systems’ managers, team members, women patients, and members of external services. The quality of the IPV case management was assessed with the PREMIS tool. Results: This study found that the health care team at La Virgen has managed 1) to engage a number of staff members in actively responding to IPV, 2) to establish good coordination, mutual support and continuous learning processes related to IPV, 3) to establish adequate internal referrals within La Virgen, and 4) to establish good coordination and referral systems with other services. Team and individual level factors have triggered the capacity and interest in creating spaces for team leaning, team work and therapeutic responses to IPV in La Virgen, although individual motivation strongly affected this mechanism. Regional interventions did not trigger individual and/ or team responses but legitimated the workings of motivated professionals. Conclusions: The primary health care team of La Virgen is involved in a continuous learning process, even as participation in the process varies between professionals. This process has been supported, but not caused, by a favourable policy for integration of a health care response to IPV. Specific contextual factors of La Virgen facilitated the uptake of the policy. To some extent, the performance of La Virgen has the potential to shape the IPV learning processes of other primary health care teams in Murcia.
Sponsor: This study protocol has been funded through a COFAS grant (supported by COFUND action within the Marie Curie Action People, in the Seventh Framework programme and the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research/FAS-Forskningsradet för arbetsliv och socialvetenskap) through a competitive call. This work was partly supported by the Umeå Centre for Global Health Research, funded by FAS, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (Grant no. 2006-1512).
ISSN: 1472-6963
DOI: 10.1186/s12913-015-0899-8
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © 2015 Goicolea et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Peer Review: si
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Appears in Collections:INV - SP - Artículos de Revistas
INV - Investigación en Género - Artículos de Revistas
Institucional - IUIEG - Publicaciones

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