Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC
Dawnovise N. Fowler, Ph.D., Behavioral Scientist in the Division of Violence Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been closely involved in the conceptualization, design and implementation of studies focusing on women who are survivors of intimate partner abuse (IPA) for over ten years. Dr. Fowler was an integral part of the development and management of a Department of Health and Human Services-funded community project to conduct community education forums on domestic violence in African-American churches in the District of Columbia, and to examine their faith-based responses to domestic violence. Dr. Fowler received doctoral research training on federally funded projects, including the SAMHSA-funded District of Columbia Trauma Collaboration Study, and an NIAAA-funded Alcohol Aggression in African American Women study at the Howard University Alcohol Research Center. As the first postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work’s NIDA-funded Substance Abuse Research Development Program, Dr. Fowler was awarded a NIDA diversity supplement to develop a research agenda on substance use problems among women IPA survivors. In 2007, Dr. Fowler was awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, New Connections program to examine substance abuse and partner abuse victimization in a nationally representative sample of women. In 2009, she was awarded the Silberman grant to conduct a meta-analysis of substance interventions for women survivors. She was a faculty affiliate to the UT-Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Currently, Dr. Fowler works on violence prevention at the national level in the Program Implementation and Dissemination Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Fowler has presented at numerous national and international conferences and has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Violence Against Women – An International and Interdisciplinary Journal; Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention: A Journal of Evidence-based Practice; Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work; Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addiction; Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse; and Journal of Family and Community Health.
The overarching goal of this research is to contribute knowledge in two under-explored areas in domestic violence research with women intimate partner abuse (IPA) survivors who also have substance use problems: 1) screening and identification; and 2) identifying the role of psychosocial correlates. An intersectional theoretical framework provides understanding of the complexities of IPA victimization as a specific type of trauma, related psychosocial factors and the need for proper screening and identification if effective and comprehensive interventions are to be employed for this population. A two-pronged approach to the study design was used to address these research areas in a methodologically sound way. First, understanding screening approaches to identify the co-occurrence of IPA and substance abuse in various social service settings such as substance abuse treatment, primary healthcare, shelters and child welfare agencies involved a critical review of the literature. Second, secondary data analysis was conducted using the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAW) to determine the relationships between IPA and specific psychosocial factors for women IPA survivors. This research has implications for improving the understanding of the screening approaches and issues specific to identifying the co-occurrence of IPA and substance abuse, and the psychosocial correlates and predictors of violence and substance abuse in the lives of women survivors.
My New Connections Experience
The New Connections award program represents a major opportunity to advance my research agenda and career. As a junior investigator, this opportunity to conduct funded research on one of the seminal, nationally representative data sources on women partner abuse survivors is invaluable. My work from this project will contribute to the knowledge base in important ways regarding untapped areas and information from the data. As a result, my research will gain national and international credibility on critical issues affecting women partner abuse survivors. Furthermore, the New Connections program represents a unique forum of researchers from underrepresented groups. The networking and intellectual exchange that has already occurred among these researchers is a vital part of our knowledge and career development, and can only happen successfully through the commitment and efforts of such an essential initiative as the New Connections program.
The primary way that my professional development has been positively impacted involves the nature of the New Connections program initiative to fund secondary data analysis. As a junior investigator, funded secondary data analysis is an efficient way to accomplish important milestones that contribute to the knowledge base, including publications, conference presentations and future research endeavors. In doing so, with a seminal, nationally representative data source, I am developing specific skills required for managing a large data set. In addition, this opportunity increases both my visibility and credibility as a funded researcher.
The overarching goal of my research and scholarship is to advance the knowledge and understanding of issues affecting women who are survivors of intimate partner abuse (IPA). There are four specific dimensions, recognized as critical gaps in the existing knowledge base, that underpin the purpose and contributions of my funded research projects: 1) the identification of factors related to positive coping and healing for women IPA survivors; 2) examining the extent and dynamics of co-existing IPA and substance abuse among large samples of women in the use of secondary analysis of prominent, national datasets, that are largely untapped; 3) the need for coordinated and integrated services to address co-existing IPA and substance abuse among women and other related problems more comprehensively; and 4) the advancement of intervention-based research on co-existing IPA and substance abuse to serve as a foundation for future evidence-based models. More specifically, my work focuses on IPA as a major public health problem among women, its intersection with various other psychosocial problems and the dire need for comprehensive, integrated intervention and services to effectively address these issues. The future goal of my research agenda on this population is to conduct federally funded intervention research using randomized, controlled designs to determine the effects of shelter-based interventions for women partner abuse survivors residing in domestic violence shelters. Other areas of research interest include: mental health and substance abuse among women; spirituality and coping; cultural resilience; and social work education.
- New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
- Award Year: 2007
- RWJF Team/Portfolio: Vulnerable Populations
- Project Name: Examining Substance Abuse and Related Psychosocial Factors Among Women Intimate Partner Abuse Survivors.