Intimate partner violence is a serious health issue that affects as many as 27.3 percent of women and 11.5 percent of men in their lifetimes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Domestic violence and abuse can cause both physical and mental health effects, ranging from injuries to worsening chronic conditions to post-traumatic stress disorder. The Academy on Violence and Abuse (AVA), a nonprofit academic organization, aims to advance health education and research on violence and abuse. The AVA Scholars Program is a mentorship program established to help junior researchers conduct high-quality research focused on understanding and limiting the health effects of violence and abuse.
Dr. Marie Barnard, assistant professor of pharmacy administration and research assistant professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, received a 2020–21 AVA Scholars Award and became the first pharmacy educator to do so. Here she discusses her research on domestic violence and why this is an important but underserved concern for pharmacists.
How did you get involved with this work?
I earned a master's degree in epidemiology at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center. My thesis project focused on pregnant victims of domestic violence in Shelby County, Tennessee, and their birth outcomes. I did not intend to work on domestic violence in my doctoral program, but when I started my Ph.D. in pharmacy administration, I realized that no one in pharmacy talks about intimate partner violence. So I began to dig a little bit and learned that pharmacists are the only healthcare provider group that doesn't have some kind of mandatory training [on domestic violence].
This raised some important questions. For example, is training not required for pharmacists because patients never disclose abuse to them? Have any pharmacists received training related to domestic violence? My dissertation project surveyed practicing community pharmacists across the country. We learned that many pharmacists had had a patient disclose abuse, but none of the pharmacists reported that they had received any training about domestic violence.
Ultimately, what I hope to do is to develop an effective [domestic violence] educational intervention for both the pharmacy school environment and continuing education for those who are out of pharmacy school and in practice.
What is the AVA Scholars Program?
AVA offers what they call the Scholars Program every other year. [Recipients] get support from a more senior researcher in the field. They provide mentoring to support you as you conduct a research project. My Scholar Award will support qualitative research to conduct interviews with pharmacists, as well as interviews with victims to examine how could the pharmacy environment best serve these patients.