Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) An Examination of County-Level and Geographical Factors in Relation to Violence Prevention and Intervention Efforts Among Service Providers (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

243P (see Poster Gallery) An Examination of County-Level and Geographical Factors in Relation to Violence Prevention and Intervention Efforts Among Service Providers

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Rachel Garthe, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Simon Mwima, MA, MPH, Public Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Shongha Kim, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
Apoorva Nag, BA, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
David Mowry, BSW, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
Background and Purpose: Violence is a significant public health concern, resulting in significant detriments against communities, economies, and individuals’ health and well-being. In rural communities, geographic isolation may limit the availability and accessibility of violence prevention and intervention efforts. Additionally, rural providers may have limited opportunities for adequate collaboration, funding, and provision of evidence-based services. Providers within counties with high socio-demographic disadvantage and violence also may face significant barriers and burden. It is imperative to examine these county-level and geographical factors in relation to providers’ perceptions and experiences with delivering violence prevention and intervention services. The current study examined differences in provider perspectives about evidence-based services and availability of programs and supports by geography (rural versus non-rural) and county-level characteristics (disadvantage and violence). We hypothesized that rural providers and providers from counties with high levels of economic stress and violence would report more barriers to deliver programming and fewer resources for violence prevention efforts.

Methods: As one component of a multifaceted statewide needs assessment, violence prevention and intervention staff were recruited through statewide and local networks to complete an online survey. Questions were asked about collaborations, impacts of violence, and the organizations they worked for. Representing 91% of Illinois counties, 130 respondents participated in the survey, and they served in trauma-informed care, victim services and advocacy, youth development and education, mental health, and child maltreatment prevention services. Multilevel modeling was conducted to examine county-level socio-economic and violence indicators, and geography type (urban, suburban, rural), in relation to provider perceptions of evidence-based programs and violence prevention supports in their service areas. All analyses were conducted in Mplus to account for the nested nature of the data (i.e., service providers nested within counties).

Results: Compared to providers in urban and suburban areas, rural providers were less likely to offer violence prevention, workforce development, trauma-informed care, and educational opportunities, and they were less knowledgeable about evidence-based violence prevention programs. Additionally, despite the perceived importance of protective factors in preventing violence—including positive childhood experiences, social-emotional learning, and family engagement and support— rural providers reported that felt they were not adequately able to address these factors in their communities. Finally, providers from counties with higher rates of violence and more socio-demographic disadvantage were also more likely to report barriers to delivering violence prevention programs.

Conclusions and Implications: This study highlights geographic considerations in offering violence prevention and intervention services. These results identified urgent and disparate provider needs by geography and county-level risks. These findings build on existing literature that has found that service providers in rural and disadvantaged communities may have inadequate access to training specific to the victim populations, long distances and travel to services, and a lack of services tailored to specific forms of violence. Therefore, it is imperative to take stock of providers’ needs, as these individuals offer key insights into their community’s unique needs and offer multi-systemic suggestions for promoting healthier communities.