Western researchers take lead on violence prevention

Special to Western News

Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced a 10-year, $100 million investment last month to prevent, detect and combat family violence and child abuse.

Western researchers will be at the forefront of preventing, detecting and combating family violence and child abuse as part of a 10-year, $100-million investment by the federal government.

PreVAiL – Preventing Violence Across the Lifespan Research Network – will serve as a co-lead organization on the first funded project, Development of Pan-Canadian Public Health Guidance on Family Violence, which will receive $4.47 million over three years. Working in conjunction with the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, PreVAiL will develop educational materials to assist health professionals in supporting victims of violence.

Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, centre, was joined by stakeholders, who have been instrumental in providing input on the topic of family violence and child abuse, including, from left, Nancy Poole, director of the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health; Harriet MacMillan, McMaster Psychiatry and Pediatrics professor and PreVAiL Research Network co-lead; Ambrose; Nadine Wathen, Western Information & Media Studies professor and PreVAiL Research Network co-lead; and Lorraine Greaves, senior investigator with the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health.

Special to Western NewsRona Ambrose, Minister of Health, centre, was joined by stakeholders, who have been instrumental in providing input on the topic of family violence and child abuse, including, from left, Nancy Poole, director of the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health; Harriet MacMillan, McMaster Psychiatry and Pediatrics professor and PreVAiL Research Network co-lead; Ambrose; Nadine Wathen, Western Information & Media Studies professor and PreVAiL Research Network co-lead; and Lorraine Greaves, senior investigator with the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health.

Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute for Gender and Health, PreVAiL brings together more than 60 researchers and partners from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Asia, Europe and Australia to produce and share knowledge that will help children, women and men exposed to child maltreatment and intimate partner violence.

“This amount of funding is really unprecedented for this kind of work,” Information and Media Studies professor Nadine Wathen said. “It will allow our group to develop evidence-based, practice-oriented guidance for health and social service providers to provide consistent, safe and compassionate care to those experiencing family violence.

“Western has been a leader in research and education on family violence, and the health system response to violence against women and children – this new funding speaks to this expertise, and the success of our PreVAiL network.”

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Wathen serves as co-lead investigator with PreVAiL, along with Harriet MacMillan, a McMaster Psychiatry and Pediatrics professor. The network also includes Western researchers Jen MacGregor, FIMS postdoctoral fellow; Anita Kothari, Health Studies professor; and Marilyn Ford-Gilboe, Nursing professor.

On this project, Ford-Gilboe will chair one of the Evidence Review Groups. Kothari will work on implementing and evaluating knowledge mobilization strategies.

“A key strength of our approach is the involvement, from the beginning, of more than a dozen key national health and social service provider organizations, including the Canadian Nurses Association, Canadian Medical Association and those representing child welfare, violence against women services, psychologists, dentists and dental hygienists,” Wathen continued. “This will allow us to develop curriculum, protocols and tools that can be tailored for these different service contexts, and evaluated to assess their impact on service delivery and ultimately on women and children’s health.”

The funding is part of a 10-year, $100 million investment to prevent, detect and combat family violence and child abuse, Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced last month. The investment will be administered through the Public Health Agency of Canada ($7 million/year) and Health Canada ($3 million/year).

“Family violence has very serious and lasting impacts on the health and mental wellbeing of those who are victimized by it,” Ambrose said at the announcement event. “ Our government is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all Canadians and will continue to stand up for victims of violence. It is my hope that, through this investment, we will be able to better support victims of violence and their children, wherever they live, so they may heal and rebuild their lives toward a healthier future.”