CHDS ELP Alums Help Guide NASEM Study on Intimate Partner Violence during Disasters

Three alumni from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Executive Leaders Program (ELP) contributed to a National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) study and report on intimate partner violence during public health emergencies. 

University of Michigan Assistant Prof. Sue Ann Bell (ELP cohort 2201) and Pandemic Response Institute Director Mitchell Stripling (ELP cohort 1502) served as core members on a 14-member ad hoc committee charged with studying and writing a report on the issue, while DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Interim Director Clint Osborn (ELP cohort 2201) served as a reviewer. 

CHDS alum Sue Anne Bell

Bell, whose doctoral research focused on how disasters affect health, has expertise in disaster preparedness and response, community health, and emergency care. She said she considers herself a “clinician scientist” with experience as a nurse practitioner and researcher who is active on a disaster medical assistance team and so was “able to bring this unique perspective of a researcher but also someone who has on-the-ground disaster response experience.” 

She had also already participated in numerous policy efforts at NASEM, including serving on the Best Practices in Assessing Mortality and Significant Morbidity Following Large-Scale Disasters Committee, among others. 

Stripling has a long history of leadership roles in emergency management, disaster response and planning, coordination, and response to public health crises. Bell described him as an expert who “does a lot of writing and a lot of disseminating, and a lot of deep thinking about emergency management.” 

Bell credited her CHDS education with helping her navigate the challenges of working with a large group of experts on the NASEM committee and actively contributing to its findings, comparing it to her ELP experience. 

“That’s kind of what ELP was like for me—this group of truly amazing people who were experts in their respective fields, but very different fields, and we got together in a room and talked about important problems and how we might solve them and learn from each other,” she said. “It was very similar.” 

Bell during deployment to Hurricane Maria response in 2017

She said participating in ELP helped her learn “not to feel intimidated to speak up in this room full of people who have done such important work, because in ELP you get to know people so well that you see these incredible things they’ve done, but you also see them as a person. It’s part of the cohort effect. There’s an expectation in ELP that everyone’s encouraged to participate, everyone contributes, and everyone’s encouraged to talk a lot and people listen. I think in this consensus study, we were selected because we had something [the committee] might want to listen to. And so you need to say it; it might make a difference. So it was structured in a similar way of encouraging leadership.” 

The ad hoc committee met several times over about a year, starting in 2023. The committee was charged with identifying essential health care services for women related to intimate partner violence (IPV) during steady-state conditions, determining whether the essential health care services related to IPV differ during public health emergencies (PHEs), and identifying strategies and developing a “conceptual framework” using an all-hazards approach for delivering essential preventive and primary health care services related to IPV during PHEs. 

“We know that intimate partner violence is an increasing problem and we knew we needed a study like this to set standards,” Bell said. “We really don’t have good systems of care for people with IPV [issues] after disasters, we really don’t. There are certain supplies we bring [to disasters], but there are also certain things we don’t have, and we don’t train our providers in general.” 

Ultimately, the committee released a report in January 2024 entitled “Essential Health Care Services Addressing Intimate Partner Violence,” which included a series of findings from research, deliberations and laid out recommendations for leaders of health care systems, federal agencies, health care providers, emergency planners and those involved in IPV research. The report can be found online at the NASEM website. 

According to Bell, the committee has already made a series of presentations, including to the NASEM study sponsor, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), as well as a Congressional staff briefing, to disseminate its findings and recommendations. 

Bell said the committee will also conduct a webinar with federal and nonprofit disaster response partners in May. She said the ultimate goal is to have federal agencies—including study sponsor HRSA, but also FEMA and other agencies—involved in disaster response and emergency management to implement the committee’s findings and recommendations. 

“We’re trying to get the word out so that we can get the results we’re hoping for,” said Bell.

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment | hissvora@nps.edu, 831-402-4672 (PST)

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