Can this provider be trusted? A review of the role of trustworthiness in the provision of community-based services for intimate partner violence survivors


While there is a growing literature on intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors and service providers, it is limited by its largely atheoretical and descriptive nature, and its emphasis on individual-level survivors' help-seeking. We seek to broaden our understanding by shifting the focus onto organizations and service systems and introducing the concept of these providers' trustworthiness toward survivors. Provider trustworthiness in delivering services includes benevolence (locally available and caring), fairness (accessible to all and non-discriminatory), and competence (acceptable and effective in meeting survivors' needs). Guided by this conceptualization, we conducted an integrative review drawing on four databases: PsycINFO, PubMed, Web of Science, and Westlaw. We identified studies for inclusion that were published between January 2005 and March 2022, and we examined the trustworthiness of community-based providers serving adult IPV survivors in the United States, including domestic violence services, health and mental health care, the legal system, and economic support services (N = 114). Major findings include (1) many survivors live in communities with no shelter beds, mental health care, or affordable housing; (2) many services are inaccessible because they lack, for example, bilingual staff, sliding fees, or telehealth options; (3) too many providers are harmful or discriminatory toward survivors, especially those who are, for example, sexual or gender minorities, immigrants or non-English-speaking, poor, or Native, Black, or Latinx; (4) many providers appear to be incompetent, lack evidence-based training, and are ineffective in meeting survivors' needs. We call on researchers, advocates, and providers to examine provider trustworthiness, and we offer an introduction to measuring it.