Uncertainty around effectiveness of advocacy interventions

Intimate partner abuse is a global problem, requiring special attention and efforts. The number of women who experience abuse by their current or former partner is so great that the World Health Organization considers violence against women to be the biggest public health problem for women worldwide. Abused women can suffer injury and physical and emotional health problems. One type of intervention to assist these women is advocacy.

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is based on the principle of empowerment. The idea is to provide support for women who experience abuse, to enable them to better help themselves. The intervention is based on talking through potential solutions with the woman, helping the woman achieve the goals she has set for herself, and helping her to make sense of the situation. Advocacy is an approach that is adapted to the individual woman's wishes and needs.

Uncertainty whether advocacy works

This review includes all the randomized controlled trials addressing the effectiveness of advocacy. However, it has not been possible to demonstrate a clear effect of advocacy interventions. The studies conducted to date are too diverse for their results to be combined, although most studies show improvement in one or more outcomes. This does not necessarily mean that the intervention does not work; it is just not possible to establish on the basis of what we know today.

However, the review authors find advocacy interventions promising. Studies indicate that more intensive long-term care in particular may reduce the risk of physical violence against the woman in the future. Also, there is evidence to suggest that brief advocacy increases the use of safety behaviors by abused women.

More research is needed in order to conclude on the effectiveness of advocacy interventions.

Included studies

This review includes ten studies covering a total of 1527 women, aged between 15 to 61 years. The ten studies have different designs and cover advocacy interventions that vary with regard to duration and intensity. Furthermore the studies measure the effect of different outcomes and the length of the follow-up period varies. This considerable variation between the studies means that it has not been possible for the authors of this review to perform a statistical pooling of the results of the different studies.

This article is based on the user abstract for the following Campbell review:
Ramsay J, Carter Y, Davidson L, Dunne D, Eldridge A, Feder G, Hegarty K, Rivas C, Taft A, Warburton A: Advocacy Interventions to reduce or eliminate violence and promote the physical and psychosocial well-being of women


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