Domestic/family violence death reviews: an international comparison

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2015 Apr;16(2):179-87. doi: 10.1177/1524838013517561. Epub 2013 Dec 31.


Domestic/Family Violence Death Reviews (D/FVDRs) have been established in a number of high-income countries since 1990 as a mechanism to inform prevention-focused interventions to reduce domestic/family violence. D/FVDRs differ in their structure, governance, case identification processes and inclusion criteria, review measures, and outputs. Outside of the United States, the extent of heterogeneity across and within countries has not been explored. This study comprised an international comparison of D/FVDRs and their core elements to inform the establishment of D/FVDRs in other developed countries, and potentially low- and middle-income countries where violence is a leading cause of death. Such a review is also a necessary foundation for any future evaluation D/FVDRs. The review identified 71 jurisdictions where a D/FVDRs had been established in the past two decades, 25 of which met the inclusion criteria. All D/FVDRs examined stated a reduction in deaths as a goal of the review process; however, none reported an actual reduction. The focus of the D/FVDRs examined was on intimate partner homicides; however, more recently established D/FVDRs include other familial relationships. Almost one third of the D/FVDRs examined reported changes to the domestic/family system that occurred as a result of recommendations made from the review process. While similar in many ways, D/FVDRs differ along a number of important dimensions that make it difficult to identify best practices for jurisdictions considering the establishment of such an initiative. To share knowledge, existing networks should be expanded nationally and internationally to include jurisdictions that may be considering this initiative.

Keywords: death/fatality review; domestic violence; family violence; homicide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees / statistics & numerical data
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Developed Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Domestic Violence* / economics
  • Domestic Violence* / prevention & control
  • Domestic Violence* / statistics & numerical data
  • Homicide* / prevention & control
  • Homicide* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Suicide* / statistics & numerical data