UCLA Fielding School of Public Health researchers awarded funding for work to reduce gun-related intimate partner homicides


UCLA Fielding School of Public Health researchers awarded funding for work to reduce gun-related intimate partner homicides in Los Angeles

October 6, 2020, Los Angeles, CA - Since 2014, there has been a sharp increase in intimate partner homicide in the U.S. More than 90% of female murder victims in the U.S. are killed by a male they know, with 62% killed by a husband or other intimate acquaintance. Black, American Indian and Alaskan Native women are at least twice as likely as white women to be killed by a male partner.

While homicide rates on the whole have recently declined, women are increasingly being killed both nationally and in Los Angeles. In 2018, the number of women murdered in Los Angeles, often by intimate partners, was at its highest rate since 2010. This highlights an urgent need for novel approaches to preventing intimate partner homicides in the city.

One such approach, the use of a lethality assessment tool when responding to domestic violence calls, gives first responders insight into each victim’s risk for severe injury and death, allowing them to prioritize potentially lethal cases. The Lethality Assessment Program – Maryland Model (LAP) is a multi-strategy intervention developed in 2005 by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV) to prevent intimate partner murder. The LAP is based on the Danger Assessment, a protocol created by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. In the LAP, first responders assess a victim’s risk of being murdered by asking evidence-based questions and then making appropriate referrals, immediately connecting victims with community-based domestic violence services. Implementing the program in Los Angeles could reduce domestic violence-related deaths and improve the overall health and well-being of women, their families, and communities – particularly those that have been marginalized.

Led by principal investigator Dr. Jennifer Wagman, researchers from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health have been awarded funding from the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center for a two-year study to pilot test the LAP in the city of Los Angeles in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the LA City Attorney’s Office, Peace Over Violence, the MNADV and Dr. Campbell. UCLA researchers will assess the fit, feasibility and agency readiness for implementing the LAP in Los Angeles. The pilot will be implemented in four LAPD divisions, and the researchers will work closely with city partners and local domestic violence service providers to ensure project participation at implementation sites.

Over the course of two years, the team will gather and analyze quantitative and qualitative data – including interviews with LAPD officers and domestic violence advocates and survivors – to assess support for the LAP model and determine what changes might be needed to implement it in Los Angeles. Findings will be used to promote the sustainable uptake, adoption and implementation of the LAP, with the eventual goal of developing a large-scale effectiveness study to evaluate the program in all 21 divisions of the LAPD.

About the UCLA Fielding School of Health

Founded in 1961, the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health aims to build health and equity, and to drive positive change for all people. We act on this mission through initiatives in three core areas: education, discovery and service. In each of these realms, we affirm our commitment to developing leaders and evidence-based solutions, and to working in partnership with communities to promote health and well-being in ways that are innovative, respectful and inclusive.