Evaluation of the Doncaster ‘Foundation for Change’ programme for perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Project contacts:  Steve Ariss and Parveen Ali

What are the aims of this project?

‘Foundation for Change’ is a programme for perpetrators of domestic abuse in Doncaster who are who are outside the criminal justice system. The study has three broad aims in relation to the Foundation for Change programme:

  1. To describe and evaluate the ‘theory’ and the implementation of the programme.
  2. To assess the social return on investment of the programme.
  3. To explore the feasibility of conducting a future waiting-list controlled trial.

 Why is this important?

Domestic abuse has been identified as a pressing public health issue, but one with a very weak evidence base to inform intervention design and delivery. To-date there has been only one evaluation of a perpetrator programme for voluntary participants in the UK. There is a need for more theory-driven evaluations of community-based interventions for perpetrators to enable greater understanding of how such interventions operate to effect change, the optimal components of such interventions, and how they can be successfully implemented in practice.

How will the research be carried out?

The study is adopting a collaborative model with service commissioners, providers and researchers working closely to deliver four components:

  1. A theory-driven process evaluation involving an iterative process of defining, testing and refining the programme logic to explore in detail both the implementation of the programme in practice and how programme components interact with contextual characteristics to produce particular outcomes for particular clients and their families.
  2. A Social Return on Investment analysis of the costs and benefits of the programme, including wider social outcomes.
  3. A study to assess the feasibility and usefulness of conducting a future waiting-list controlled outcome evaluation.
  4. Integration of study findings and deliberative workshops with stakeholders and the wider practice community to identify key learning and transferable knowledge; including recommendations for proceeding to a full, controlled trial or not.


The project will be completed by the spring of 2017

Who is undertaking the research?

The research is being carried out by a team of researchers across ScHARR and the School of Nursing and Midwifery. The project is supported by public health commissioners and the wider domestic abuse strategy group at Doncaster, as well as the provider organisation that is delivering the intervention, Foundation.

How are stakeholders being engaged?

As with all PHPES projects, this evaluation has been initiated by local public health practitioners. The project is supported by public health commissioners and the wider domestic abuse strategy group at Doncaster, as well as the provider organisation that is delivering the intervention, Foundation. The collaborative nature of the project will ensure that the research is responsive to the needs and interests of Doncaster Council and wider stakeholders. The project is already a standing item on the multi-agency Domestic Abuse Theme Group (DATG) which meets bi-monthly.

The research team has established a Project Advisory Group consisting of a small number of academics, policy-makers, commissioners, practitioners and lay/public members. It has also established a small Client Reference Group comprising current and ex-programme participants and partners/family members. Both groups are providing critical commentary on the design and implementation of the project over the life of the study and also contribute to the design and dissemination of research outputs.

 What will be the outputs from the study?

  • Peer-reviewed academic papers will be submitted to leading subject specific and public health journals.
  • Study findings will be presented at two UK conferences in 2016.
  • Additional opportunities to present the work will also be sought within local and national networks in relation to prevention of domestic violence, as well as at SPHR meetings and conferences.
  • Internal briefing notes and presentations will be shared with elected members and council officers, as well as a wider network of potential commissioners to inform future commissioning decisions in terms of resourcing, development and tailoring of services appropriately.
  • Practice-focused briefing papers and presentations will be shared through professional networks and conferences, including Safer Stronger Partnership Boards and relevant national organisations
  • With input from our advisory group and client reference group we will develop outputs that are accessible to these stakeholder groups, such as audio/video clips for online distribution and/or graphic novel approaches.


To find out more contact Parveen Ali   parveen.ali@sheffield.ac.uk