WONCA Special Interest Group: Family Violence

Family Violence

A new WONCA Special Interest Group on Family Violence was approved by the WONCA Executive in January 2014.

Although the group will focus on recommendations and guidance for the GP, these could be applied to the diversity of professionals working in Primary Care. There is consensus that a good and effective response to FV requires a multi- professional approach, to which the specific contribution of GP has to be defined. Coordination with other professionals (nurses, social workers, midwives) is crucial so collaboration with other disciplines’ networks will be sought to enhance multidisciplinary task definitions, support, the promotion of longitudinal follow up after acute situations and high standard chronic follow-up care.

The Special Interest Group will focus its first activities in the beginning on intimate partner violence putting it in the broader contexts of gender violence and the family context. This deliberate choice for policy development does not exclude attention to the cultural diversity and contexts in different continents, such as the different meanings of ‘family’ and the broader context of violence against women in society.

Find out why we need an SIG on Family Violence.

General membership is open to interested family doctors. For more information email convenor

Convenor / Chair


email convenor

Prof Kelsey Hegarty (Australia)

Kelsey Hegarty is a general practitioner or family doctor who holds the research Chair of Family Violence Prevention at the University of Melbourne and the Royal Women’s Hospital, Victoria, Australia. She is the co-chair of the Melbourne Research Alliance to End Violence against Women and their Children. Her research program includes the evidence base for early interventions; educational and complex interventions around identification of and response to family violence online and in health care settings. She participated as a member of the World Health Organisation guidelines development group. She provides clinical advice to the WHO on violence against women. She teaches doctors and nurse on a regular basis and has developed curriculum in the area of abuse and violence.

Dr Hagit Dascal-Weichhendler (Israel)

Hagit Dascal-Weichhendler is a board certified family physician, working full time as a clinician with a mixed population in Northern Israel. She is the chairperson of the Committee on Family Violence (FV) in Clalit Health Services, Haifa and West Galillee District, which serves over 740,000 patients from multiple cultural backgrounds. It provides training, educational materials counselling and support to staff on FV cases. She developed and teaches a mandatory semester course on FV in the Haifa Department of Family Medicine, as well as an elective semester course for Medical Students. Hagit has written guidelines on family violence for the Israeli Association of Family Medicine. She has participated in the development of a national simulation based educational program on FV. Her research interests are educational interventions on FV for health care staff, and FV health consequences. She's a member of the Ministry of Health Committee on FV. There she puts an emphasis on the importance of connecting between health providers in the field and policy makers. As a member of the FV SIG she seeks to improve international cooperation in this important area.

Co-Convenor or other office bearers

Executive Members

Prof Kelsey Hegarty
Dr Hagit Dascal-Weichhendler
Dr Raquel Gomez Bravo

Membership Open?

Vision and Mission of WONCA SIG on Family Violence


The Special Interest Group on Family Violence's main aims are:
  1. To promote evidence-based prevention and primary health care for those affected by family violence in the most comprehensive definition. Thus including intimate partner violence, child abuse, elder abuse and perpetrator care. This evidence based care will be seen in a broader context of violence in society towards women.
  2. To promote effective interdisciplinary, shared care for those who experience family violence.

Objectives of the WONCA SIG on Family Violence

Specific objectives to achieve the aims this are
1. To update and disseminate available scientific evidence on family violence in general practice/family medicine and primary health care
2. To generate recommendations based on this evidence. When evidence is not
available establish a consensus based approach
3. To define the tasks of general practitioners/ family physicians and the primary care team in the field of family violence
4. To promote guidance adapted to different countries and contexts
5. To develop training and quality improvement of family violence systems in general practice/family medicine and primary health care
6. To study family violence care pathways, primary health care outcomes and costs.
7. To share and elaborate evidence based recommendations for general/family practices worldwide on preventive measures, care strategies and policy development.

These objectives should be applied to different health care systems and cultural contexts worldwide.

To achieve this we will develop a common policy plan supported by contributions from different networks and organizations active in WONCA World.

We will:
  • Promote involvement of national organizations to explicitly define their views on family violence and send representatives to the group
  • Priority actions will be defined for three year periods or from one WONCA world Meeting to another to promote collaboration between the constituting WONCA networks and relevant other organizations in the following areas:
  • Compare family violence in different regions of the world in its broadest context and in regard to gender violence in particular
  • Describe country differences in health, mental and social care for family violence
  • Describe current projects and available materials for general practice and primary care on family violence
  • Compare legal frameworks and legislative demands in different countries and propose changes if needed
  • Share and support the development of patient and family centered protocols and pathways
  • Share and support the development of specific evidence based tools for disclosure, assessment, provision of information, counseling , advocacy and care, record keeping and monitoring, referring and active following up according to needs
  • Update best evidence for screening versus routine enquiry and clinical enquiry
  • Study detection and support for problematic parenting, disclosure in early childhood of problematic behavior and other signs of violence
  • Update guidelines or adapt them to local contexts and specific groups
  • Share and develop training protocols to educate health professionals, adjusting and improving skills, attitudes and knowledge
  • Develop further assistance to general practice/family medicine and other medical personnel in recognizing family violence (doctors, nurses, community nurses), applying principles of privacy and confidentiality
  • Raise professional and public awareness about family violence





While awaiting formal policy plan development, the SIG will further develop with small task forces of active members already started projects by network members linked to earlier WONCA meetings:
  • Online inventory of running projects, training strategies and practice tools
  • Collect country descriptions of available services
  • Make an inventory of needs and define priorities for a common policy plan
  • Develop a consensus on disclosure and assessment of immediate risk

2015 newsletter
October 2016 news


• Steering group members and a convener are appointed for three years at each WONCA world meeting by the WONCA SIG Family Violence membership.
• The Steering group members use information technology to develop further policy proposals to be endorsed through contacts with their own networks, further developed at regional meetings and endorsed at WONCA World meetings.
• Decisions are taken by common agreement or if needed by simple majority vote; in case of equal views the view of the convener will decide.
• Steering group members and active members are expected to report to their own organizations/working parties for broad endorsement of terms of reference in 2013 and first policy plan development in 2014 as well as any updates.
• Priorities will be set in collaboration with the represented networks at planned yearly workshops or satellite meetings for WONCA conferences
• Web based communication will be used actively for exchange and discussions between WONCA meetings.
• The policy plan proposed by the steering group will always be circulated to represented networks and organizations by the delegates for advice; it will be updated and debated at open general assembly meetings at yearly WONCA meetings.
• A Google group will be opened for active members for further broad open exchange on ideas, needs and suggestions.
• Approved documents will be displayed online and proposed to WONCA World website and network websites through an editing committee with regional representation


Relevant Resources