terri l. weaver, ph.d. :: exploring the impact of violence on the lives of women and their children

:: Project Overview

Groundbreaking Project Aims to Help Victims of Domestic Violence
Program will help health care workers identify problems

One of the greatest concerns for domestic violence advocates is that many victims are falling through the cracks of the nation's health care system. Saint Louis University has received new funding to expand a program that trains health care providers to catch victims before they slip through the cracks.

SLU’s Pediatric-Psychology Partnership for Abuse Prevention recently received a three-year grant worth nearly $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Health Professions. It’s the third time the bureau has funded the program, also known as the Child and Family Safety Project, since its inception in 2002.

The grant will help extend and expand the program, which began as a way to train graduate-level psychology students how to identify and intervene with victims of domestic violence. Now these students are passing their knowledge on to residents in the pediatrics program at SLU as well as students in the University’s School of Medicine.

In return, the psychology students are learning first-hand about the health care system as well as the health concerns facing young children and their families. Working together, these students and residents offer families comprehensive health care intervention. The services will be provided at University Pediatrics, a primary care clinic located in a medically underserved community that serves about 6,000 patients each year.

“Domestic violence is a major public health problem in the United States and is often under-reported and under-identified," said Terri Weaver, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and the project's director. “The pediatric setting provides a unique opportunity to identify and help both women and their children who may be in danger.”

The project already has created educational materials that have been added to the core curriculum of clinical psychology, ensuring that every student in the program is exposed to the information. Also through this project, some doctoral students in clinical psychology may soon be able to pursue a master’s degree in public health to broaden their understanding of violence and health.

The long-term goal of the project is to make violence screening services part of the standard health care visit. Weaver said this could break down the barriers that, many women may experience in seeking services related to violence and abuse.


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