Towards an ecological understanding of readiness to engage with interventions for children exposed to domestic violence and abuse: Systematic review and qualitative synthesis of perspectives of children, parents and practitioners.
Children who grow up in homes affected by domestic violence and abuse (DVA) are at risk of poor outcomes across the lifespan, yet there is limited evidence on the acceptability and effectiveness of interventions for them. A recent review of child-focused interventions highlighted a gap in understanding the factors influencing the willingness of parents and children to engage with these programmes. We conducted a systematic review of qualitative evidence on the experiences of receiving and delivering interventions with the aim of identifying factors at different levels of the social-ecological context that may influence parent and child readiness to take up interventions. We searched literature till April 2016 and found 12 reports of eight programmes. Two authors independently screened papers for inclusion, extracted data and identified the first- and second-order constructs. The third-order constructs were derived and fitted to the ecological framework to inform a picture of readiness to engage with interventions. Three key findings emerged from this review: (a) parent and child readiness is influenced by a complex interplay of individual, relationship and organisational factors, highlighting that individual readiness to take up child-focussed interventions must be viewed in an ecological context; (b) the specific process through which women become ready to engage in or facilitate child-focussed interventions may differ from that related to uptake of safety-promoting behaviours and requires parents to be aware of the impact of DVA on children and to focus on children's needs; (c) there are distinct but interlinked processes through which parents and children reach a point of readiness to engage in an interventions aimed at improving child outcomes. We discuss the implications of these findings for both practice and research.