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Domestic Violence Fatality Review Teams: Collaborative Efforts to Prevent Intimate Partner Femicide Kelly A. Watt University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Intimate Partner Femicide (IPF) • The homicide of a woman by her current or former intimate partner • The single most common form of homicide perpetrated against women • Preventable tragedies following many opportunities for intervention • Critical to identify ways to increase understanding and prevention
Domestic Violence Fatality Review Teams (DVFRT) • Emerged in 1994 as a means to understand and prevent cases of IPF • Involve a collaboration of stakeholders who review cases of IPF to identify risk factors and gaps in the system response • Publish report describing their work, findings, and recommendations for systems change
ME V T W A Lake Superior ND M T Lake Lake NH MN Huron Ontario M A N Y OR RI WI Lake ID Erie Lake SD MICHIGAN C T Michigan W Y P A NJ I A OH DE NE IN I L NV MD WV U T V A CO K Y MO C A KS DC NC TN OK SC AR AZ NM G A A L MS L A TX AK F L HI Active DVFRT
Nature and Accomplishments of DVFRT • Anecdotal evidence suggests that DVFRT may lead to systemic changes • Increased public awareness • Better coordination of services • Improved policies and procedures • However, little is known about the nature of these teams or what they accomplish
National Study of DVFRT • This study employs qualitative methods to examine • How DVFT attempt to promote systems change by describing their goals, structures, processes, and outcomes • What critical issues or tensions underlie their efforts to promote change that may account for how they are set up and what they achieve
Methods: Participants • 35 DVFRT (M 6 yrs) • Representing 28 states and 1 province • 42 Members (M 5 yrs) • 38% chairs • 31% coordinators • 24% general • 7% staff
Methods: Procedures • Reconnaissance • Discussions with expert in the field • Attendance to national conference • Recruitment • Compiled list of “active” DVFRT • At least 1 team from every state/province • At least 1 member familiar with history/operations • 100% of teams agreed to participate
Methods: Measures • In-depth interview (100%) • Based on review of literature, access to published reports, consultation with experts • Explored goals, structures, processes, outcomes and tensions of teams • Document review (89%) • Reviewed most recent report published by the team available at the time of recruitment • Described teams work, findings, and recommendations for systems change
Methods: Analysis • Frequency Analysis • Involves calculating the frequency of events • Content Analysis • Involves analyzing information to uncover common themes
Findings: Goals • Changing policies and procedures • Promoting awareness and education • Improving coordination and relationships • Creating additional funding and resources
Findings: Structure • Authority • 72% Legislation/Executive Order, 22% Interagency Agreement, 3% Coroner’s Act “I think we can really identify the issues that need to be addressed and help make significant improvements to the system by sharing the information honestly and openly within the group.”
Findings: Structure • Jurisdiction • 43% State/Province, 57% County/Regional • Membership • 100% Professional, 17% Religious, 11% Victims, and 1% Family “We do not contact families to ask them for additional information. We really hold true to the fact our value of confidentiality and I do not think we could insure that if we included family.”
Findings: Process • Breadth of cases • 43% Narrow review of intimate partner homicides • 57% Broad review of domestic violence deaths
Findings: Process • Depth of review • 91% Biographical (min 2 cases) • 43% Epidemiological (max 200 cases) “Because domestic violence is such a complex issue, we really need to gather a lot of information and take an in depth look at the uniqueness of each case. It gives you the opportunity to identify gaps and increase cooperation and collaboration. If you do not dig deep into a specific case the likelihood that you are going to be able to identify these things is pretty slim.”
Findings: Outcomes • Making recommendations • 86% make recommendations • 80% publish recommendations “It makes it more difficult to have agencies change if we use the team as an agent for making policy recommendations. The result is the opposite of what you would like to get. People become more entrenched and unwilling to change because of feeling that something has been dictated to them instead of feeling that they are themselves agents of change.”
Findings: Outcomes • Developing recommendations • 23% specific cases • 20% aggregated across specific cases • 3% nonspecific • 54% combination “Unless you provided the specific case and the specific recommendation, it would only be a recommendation without a context.”
Findings: Outcomes • Types of recommendations • 100% changing policies and procedures • 89% promoting awareness and education • 71% improving coordination and relationships • 68% creating additional funding and resources “You can make all the recommendations in the world but if they are not looked at by the people who have the ability to change policies and procedures then you are just creating something for the shelf.”
Findings: Outcomes • Implementing recommendations • 51% monitor recommendations • 46% implement recommendations • 23% publish actions taken • 6% publish action plan “The team never expected to have to follow up with implementation of recommendations. It learned, however, that its efforts were futile otherwise.”
Summary and Implications • The diverse nature of DVFRT appears to reflect their efforts to resolve important tensions • Differences between DVFRT may have implications for promoting systems change • What are we accomplishing? • Is it worth the time, resources, an energy? • How do we compare to other prevention efforts?
Contact Information for Kelly • Kelly A. Watt Clinical/Community DivisionDepartment of PsychologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign603 East Daniel StreetChampaign, Illinois 61820Phone: (604) 697-0016 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org