Study on Domestic Violence and Abuse in Gay and Bisexual men Attending a UK Sexual Health Service


The study is part of the Programme of Research on Violence in Diverse Domestic Environments (PROVIDE). PROVIDE is a National Institute of Health Research funded programme which ran between October 2009 and September 2014. It brings together gender based violence researchers from the fields of health and social science, as well as collaborators from the health sector and third sector domestic violence organisations.

The programme consisted of four work streams, one of which was led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), which investigated domestic violence and abuse experienced and perpetrated by gay and bisexual men attending a sexual health service. 

First phase

In the first phase of the study, researchers in the Gender Violence and Health Centre (GVHC), examined the prevalence of domestic violence and abuse and associated health outcomes in gay and bisexual men attending a hospital based sexual health service in London using epidemiological methods and qualitative research.

  • 1 in 3 gay and bisexual men reported ever experiencing negative and potentially abusive behaviour from a partner
  • Both experience and perpetration of these behaviours were associated with poor mental health outcomes, heavy alcohol use and substance abuse

Second phase

In the second phase of the study, a pilot educational and support intervention was developed for sexual health practitioners to promote enquiry about experiences of domestic violence and abuse and improve management after disclosure. Sexual health practitioners reported increased awareness of domestic violence and abuse and confidence in asking questions about it.

  • The survey data and qualitative interviews with gay and bisexual men showed that they supported health practitioners enquiring about abuse
  • Two thirds of men in the survey said that health practitioners should ask about domestic violence and abuse selectively and based on presenting symptoms, whilst a third felt that they should ask all patients routinely
  • Only 4% of gay and bisexual men reported ever being asked by a health practitioner whether they had been hurt or frightened by a partner

The study concluded that sexual health services are appropriate contexts in which to ask gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men about relationship abuse. However, the practice should be underpinned by practitioner training, clinical guidelines, ongoing supervision and referral pathways to specialist domestic violence services.


Dr Loraine J Bacchus, Principal Investigator

Dr Ana Maria Buller, Lecturer

Giulia Ferrari, Research Fellow

Collaborating organisations

University of Bristol

Guy’s & St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Broken Rainbow

Stonewall Housing





“It’s always good to ask”: A mixed methods study on the perceived role of sexual health practitioners asking gay and bisexual men about experiences of domestic violence and abuse. (Unfortunately, this publication is not open access)

Occurrence and impact of domestic violence and abuse in gay and bisexual men: a cross sectional survey. (Unfortunately, this publication is not open access)

Occurrence of domestic violence and abuse in gay and bisexual men attending a sexual health clinic and pilot testing of an educational support intervention for sexual health practitioners.

Associations between intimate partner violence and health among men who have sex with men: a systematic review and meta-analysis.


PROVIDE Conference

Findings from the PROVIDE programme were presented at the PROVIDE one-day conference on 19 November 2014. This enabled discussion of the impact of PROVIDE in the context of the National Institute for Health Care Excellence guidance on how health and social services can respond effectively to domestic violence.

For more information please see the PROVIDE conference report and the PROVIDE conference evaluation.


Featured image: Man hands painted as the rainbow flag forming a heart, symbolizing gay love. Image credit: Nito via Shuttershock

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