Fighting #DomesticViolence Through Public Health Research

5 Questions with…Dr. Andrea Gielen, Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy
Last time, we heard from Alyse Campbell and Kerry Hayes.  Today, we have the unique opportunity to hear from renowned researcher, Dr. Andrea Gielen, who has worked extensively to prevent domestic violence through a public health approach.  She is currently evaluating the impact of domestic violence programs in Maryland’s hospitals and community agencies.
1) What sparked your interest in domestic violence prevention?

I’ve always been interested in injury prevention as a field​,​ and domestic violence got on my radar when we were doing a women’s HIV and reproductive health study. When we saw high rates of I​ntimate ​P​artner ​V​iolence (IPV)​ among women getting care for their HIV, we started investigating it further and learned about how IPV could be both a risk factor for HIV and an outcome of HIV among the women we were seeing.

2) Could you elaborate on what a “public health” approach to domestic violence entails?  

We think of a public health approach as one that is focused on addressing the needs of populations, with an eye towards prevention (different from a medical approach of treating individuals when they are sick). It also means using a systematic approach to problem solving that includes​ surveillance, risk factor identification, intervention development, testing and evaluation, followed by broad scale dissemination.

3) Can you describe ​some of ​your current project​s? 

​My team is currently evaluating domestic violence programs based in six Maryland area hospitals.  We aim to describe the delivery, quality, and impact of services, as well as to identify avenues for enhancing the quality and impact of these programs.
Besides this project, my team is testing an individual counseling intervention for survivors of intimate partner violence at a community-based agency in Maryland.  We aim to evaluate the feasibility of this program, as well as assess the program’s potential impact on women’s confidence, IPV experiences and indicators of physical and mental health.

4) Who/what inspires you to continue your work in domestic violence prevention?
Women’s stories of survival inspire me.

5) What advice do you have for others who are interested in a public health approach to domestic violence prevention?

There are many paths depending on your particular interests and opportunities. I would suggest starting with your local domestic violence shelter or hospital program to find out what they are doing and what needs they have for either volunteers or technical assistance.

If you are looking for grant funding, I’d look to private foundations that support women and family causes, as well as the​ CDC, NIH, and NIJ who also fund research. Another strategy is to look at women’s health funding opportunities and add an Intimate ​Partner ​Violence (IPV)​ component; ​it’s often difficult to find funding that focuses exclusively on addressing IPV in women.

Dr. Andrea Gielen
is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and Professor of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Most of her work has addressed prevention needs of low income, urban families in the areas of domestic violence, home and motor vehicle injuries.  Among her many accomplishments, she has conducted some of the first research demonstrating the relationship between domestic violence and HIV risk.  More recently, she has examined risk and protective factors for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV), evaluated hospital and community-based IPV services, and evaluated a community bullying prevention program.  Outside of her research, she has enjoyed serving on the Board of multiple violence and injury prevention agencies in Maryland.