Article Text

Original research
Top 10 priorities for Sexual Violence and Abuse Research: Findings of the James Lind Alliance Sexual Violence Priority Setting Partnership
  1. Filippo Varese1,2,
  2. Catherine White3,
  3. Eleanor Longden2,
  4. Christina Charalambous1,
  5. Kate Meehan1,
  6. Imogen Partington1,
  7. Efa Ashman1,
  8. Lowri Marsh1,
  9. Elizabeth Yule1,
  10. Laila Mohamed3,
  11. Jane Chevous4,5,
  12. Emma Harewood6,
  13. Toto Gronlund7,
  14. Anne-Marie Jones8,9,
  15. Samira Malik10,
  16. Charlotte Maxwell11,
  17. Concetta Perot4,
  18. Shani Sephton12,
  19. Daniel Taggart13,
  20. Lynne Tooze14,
  21. Rabiya Majeed-Ariss3
  1. 1Division of Psychology and Mental Health, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Complex Trauma and Resilience Research Unit, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK
  3. 3Saint Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK
  4. 4Survivors Voices, Reshapers Community Interest Company, Suffolk, UK
  5. 5Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK
  6. 6The Lighthouse, University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK
  7. 7James Lind Alliance, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  8. 8South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Sunderland, UK
  9. 9The Prosper Study, Risk, Abuse and Violence (RAV) Research Programme, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  10. 10Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK
  11. 11Department of Professional Psychology, University of East London, London, UK
  12. 12Holistic Attachment Services, Reading, UK
  13. 13School of Health and Social Care, University of Essex, Colchester, UK
  14. 14Respond, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Filippo Varese; filippo.varese{at}


Objectives To establish a James Lind Alliance (JLA) Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) to identify research priorities relevant to the health and social care needs of adults with lived experience of recent and/or historical sexual violence/abuse.

Participants Adults (aged 18+ years) with lived experience of sexual violence/abuse (ie, ‘survivors’) were consulted for this PSP, alongside healthcare and social care professionals who support survivors across the public, voluntary, community, independent practice and social enterprise sectors.

Methods In line with standard JLA PSP methodology, participants completed an initial online survey to propose research questions relevant to the health and social care needs of survivors. Research questions unanswered by current evidence were identified, and a second online survey was deployed to identify respondents’ priorities from this list. Questions prioritised through the second survey were presented at a consensus meeting with key stakeholders to agree the top 10 research priorities using a modified nominal group technique approach.

Results 223 participants (54% survivors) provided 484 suggested questions. Seventy-five unique questions unanswered by research were identified and subsequently ranked by 343 participants (60% survivors). A consensus meeting with 31 stakeholders (42% survivors) examined the top-ranking priorities from the second survey and agreed the top 10 research priorities. These included research into forms of support and recovery outcomes valued by survivors, how to best support people of colour/black, Asian and minority ethnic and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) survivors, improving access to high-quality psychological therapies, reducing public misconceptions/stigma, the impact of involvement in the criminal justice system on well-being, and how physical and mental health services can become more ‘trauma informed’.

Conclusions These research priorities identify crucial gaps in the existing evidence to better support adult survivors of sexual violence and abuse. Researchers and funders should prioritise further work in these priority areas identified by survivors and the professionals who support them.


Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data can be requested by contacting the project leads: Dr Filippo Varese and Dr Rabiya Majeed-Ariss.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data can be requested by contacting the project leads: Dr Filippo Varese and Dr Rabiya Majeed-Ariss.

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  • Contributors Project leadership and coordination—FV and RM-A. Design and preparation of project protocol—FV, RM-A, CW, EL and LaM. James Lind Alliance advice and chairing of Steering Group—TG. Data collection—EY, LoM, EA, IP, KM and CC. Question verification and evidence checking—RM-A, FV, EA, LT, A-MJ, CM and CP. Survey data analysis—FV, RM-A, IP, EA, CC and KM. Contribution to Steering Group activities (eg, protocol ratification, piloting and sign-off survey questions, selection of final uncertainties for prioritisation)—CW, EL, JC, EH, A-MJ, SM, CM, CP, SS, DT and LT. Initial draft of manuscript—FV, CC and KM. Revising and final approval of manuscript—all authors. Guarantor of the research- FV.

  • Funding The project was supported via internal funding from the University of Manchester’s Division of Psychology and Mental Health and the Centre for New Treatments and Understanding in Mental Health (CeNTrUM). Additional funding to support the involvement of survivors in this PSP has been gathered through a crowdfunding campaign supported by the University of Manchester crowdfunding team.

  • Competing interests Non-commercial interests: FV and RM-A have received research funding from the UKRI Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network focusing on the long-term needs of survivors of sexual violence. FV and EL received several research grants from the National Institute of Health Research for the development and evaluation of psychological therapies for individuals with severe mental health difficulties (Advanced Fellowship Programme; Research for Patient Benefit Programme, Health Technology Assessment Programme, and the Health Service & Delivery Research Programme; and Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme and Development and Skills Enhancement Award), including trials focusing on the mental health needs of trauma survivors. EH is the director of The Lighthouse, an NHS service providing health, therapy, advocacy and child-friendly justice for children who experience sexual abuse in north London. All other authors have no non-commercial interests to declare. Commercial interests: EH is the director of a management consultancy specialising in the fields of whole system transformation and child sexual abuse services (Harewood Consultancy). All other authors have no commercial interests to declare.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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