Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a New Hospital-Based Program

Posted April 21, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog breakingthescyckleofviolence 2017

In emer­gency rooms across the coun­try, vic­tims of inten­tion­al injury — such as wounds from guns or knives — often report think­ing about retal­i­at­ing or mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant life changes. Now, a hos­pi­tal-based vio­lence inter­ven­tion pro­gram, called Heal­ing Hurt Peo­ple (HHP), is using this piv­otal moment to pro­vide med­ical ser­vices and iden­ti­fy resources in areas such as emo­tion­al sup­port, sub­stance abuse treat­ment and job training.

The pro­gram has emerged as a promis­ing strat­e­gy for inter­rupt­ing a stub­born cycle of vio­lence, which is why the Foun­da­tion is sup­port­ing a mul­ti­year eval­u­a­tion to assess its effectiveness.

HHP cur­rent­ly oper­ates in five Philadel­phia trau­ma cen­ters that serve some of the city’s low­est-income and high­est-crime neigh­bor­hoods. The eval­u­a­tion now under­way focus­es on three of these cen­ters and aims to assess HHP’s impact on post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der (PTSD), re-injury, retal­i­a­tion and recidi­vism. Par­tic­i­pat­ing patients are all young adults, ages 18 to 24, who have suf­fered a vio­lent injury. Near­ly all of these indi­vid­u­als are African Amer­i­can or Latino.

Pre­lim­i­nary find­ings indi­cate that the pro­gram is work­ing. So far, HHP par­tic­i­pants also have zero arrests and re-injuries on record. In addi­tion, these par­tic­i­pants have a sig­nif­i­cant decrease in PTSD symp­toms com­pared with the con­trol group,” accord­ing to Dr. Ted Corbin, direc­tor of HHP and an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Emer­gency Med­i­cine at Drex­el University’s Col­lege of Med­i­cine. I’m hop­ing this evi­dence will show that hos­pi­tal-based vio­lence inter­ven­tion pro­grams are impor­tant to have — par­tic­u­lar­ly in hos­pi­tals that are serv­ing an impov­er­ished, urban population.”

Suzanne Barnard, direc­tor of Casey’s Evi­dence-Based Prac­tice Group, calls HHP an inno­v­a­tive strat­e­gy for bring­ing togeth­er a vari­ety of part­ners — includ­ing hos­pi­tals and health sys­tems — and for pre­vent­ing greater med­ical costs down the road.” She also com­mends HHP for serv­ing a pop­u­la­tion of young adults that dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly expe­ri­ences and com­mits vio­lent injuries. The idea is to inter­rupt the cycle of vio­lence and reduce the odds that young peo­ple will enter the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem,” says Barnard.

Final results of the HHP eval­u­a­tion are due at the end of 2017. Drex­el University’s Col­lege of Med­i­cine and School of Pub­lic Health will devel­op and sub­mit sum­maries of the results for nation­al, state and local forums.

Learn more about Casey’s work to build evidence

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