Family violence is a significant public health problem that disproportionately affects Black communities. Poor birth outcomes, including infant deaths, are also much more common among Black mothers and children, and they may be linked to the stress and injury that family violence can produce. There is not enough information on the root causes of family violence, and there is a great need to better understand these causes so that prevention programs can be created. Ultimately, such programs could prevent serious injuries and deaths and improve birth outcomes, individual health, family functioning, community safety, and worker productivity. The purpose of this project, called Safe Spaces, is to create a long-term partnership between researchers, people who work in the community health field and members of a New Orleans, Louisiana community with a high rate of violence and poor birth outcomes. Together they will explore the causes of family violence and its link with poor birth outcomes and will begin to generate solutions. Safe Spaces will be co-led by a university and a community organization. An 11-member advisory board of people with diverse backgrounds and skills will meet quarterly to direct the project. The program will also host quarterly meetings tha will be open to other interested stakeholders. The advisory board and other stakeholders will receive training in how to do community based participatory research (CBPR), which is a structured way to document the health issues that matter to communities and take action to address them. The lead organizations will sign agreements with other participating groups to formalize how they will work together to gather community input and, later, developing future proposals to test violence prevention programs. Safe Spaces will determine community concerns and assets in two ways. A series of forums will be held in the target community during which people will discuss their ideas about possible causes of and solutions to family violence. Several focus groups will also be held to further explore ideas that come up during community discussions. Researchers and community representatives will work together to analyze the information that is gathered, and then they will share a summary of the results through a community forum, online distribution, and mailings. Safe Spaces will also host health education and resource fairs in conjunction with all of the community forums held throughout the project to ensure that neighborhood residents know about important health issues and what they can do address them. During the final phase of the program, Safe Space partners will develop a violence prevention program based on the community needs, desires, and strengths identified during discussions and focus groups. Partners will write and submit a request for funding to implement and test the effectiveness of their program. Once funded, partners will execute the program with an eye toward sharing lessons learned with other communities experiencing similar challenges.
This project will develop an academic-community partnership focused on addressing racial disparities in family violence and poor birth outcomes in a New Orleans, Louisiana community. After collecting information on community perspectives, partners will develop a tailored, replicable prevention project and request support to test the program. Ultimately, this work will help prevent serious injuries and deaths and improve birth outcomes, individual health, family functioning, community safety, and worker productivity.