FVPF eJournal
Futures Without Violence eJournal
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Editor’s Comments

by Linda Chamberlain PhD MPH

More than 750 participants from 17 countries attended the Fifth National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence (DV) in New Orleans, Louisiana from October 8-10, 2009.  Sponsored by the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the conference is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  As a city recovering from one of the greatest natural disasters of our times, New Orleans conveyed a spirit of resiliency and vision for the future that permeated this event.  Participants had the opportunity before and after the conference to volunteer for post-Katrina recovery efforts.

This issue of Family Violence Prevention and Health Practice highlights some of the diverse topics that were featured at the conference.  With several plenary sessions each day and concurrent workshops being offered on six or more topics within the field of domestic violence, it was daunting to decide which topics to cover.  In addition, there were thirteen pre-conference institutes on a wide range of topics including reproductive health, dating violence, responding to domestic violence with military families, starting a domestic violence health care advocacy program, and the state of research on domestic violence.

The goal of our journal staff was to feature some topics in this issue that reflect emerging issues, scientific advances, and trends in the field.  Using this framework, our coverage starts with an overview of a plenary session and several workshops on dating violence.  Increased interest and research on this topic is timely as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, working with the Family Violence Prevention Fund, has launched a large-scale, multi-pronged dating violence prevention initiative in several states.

Data from several randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies were presented at the conference.  The number and quality of studies reflects an encouraging trend in the field as we build our evidence base with more rigorous research.  All of these studies are pending publication, so the scope of our coverage is limited with the intent to alert our readers that these data will soon be available.

A continuing theme through the history of this conference has been building partnerships and making connections to enhance our understanding of domestic violence and to develop more coordinated, trauma-informed services and prevention strategies.  The plenary session on domestic violence, poverty, substance abuse, and mental health illustrates both substantial advances that have been made in understanding the intersection between these co-occurring issues and the tremendous potential for an integrated response.

This issue closes with a focus on prevention by hearing from some of the great innovators in the field of domestic violence, public health, and gender equality.   What we have described offers a glance at an incredibly diverse range of cutting-edge issues, state-of-the-art research, and promising practices that were presented at the conference.  If you could not be there, you have the opportunity to review many of the presentations by going to http://www.fvpfhealthconference.org/.

-Special thanks to Corinna Cook, Graduate Student at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, for her editorial assistance