Both unintentional injuries and those caused by acts of violence are among the leading causes of death for Americans. Dr. Karen Liller leads much of the injury prevention research at the College of Public Health. She is presently a full tenured professor in the College of Public Health specializing in public health and injury prevention. Dr. Liller holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in medical technology, technical education, and education (curriculum and instruction). Dr. Liller has held numerous administrative positions including associate dean for Academics and Student Affairs in the College of Public Health and dean of the USF Graduate School and Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation. She is also the strategic lead for the Policy, Practice, and Leadership area at the USF College of Public Health and developed the Activist Lab of which she serves as director.
Dr. Liller is presently serving as the Harrell Center interim director temporarily. She recently was appointed to serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Liller has received several national and state grants related to injury prevention, most recently related to sports injury prevention in children and adolescents. A few examples of her most recent project are as follows:
These studies have led to several peer-reviewed publications and presentations at national and international meetings. Dr. Liller and colleagues have some of the only data on sports injuries in young children playing sports in settings outside of schools.
To track violent deaths in the United States, the CDC devised the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), the only multistate-based reporting system that pools more than 600 unique data elements from multiple sources into an anonymous database that covers all types of violent deaths (homicides and suicides) in all settings for all age groups.
Florida recently joined the NVDRS after receiving a three-year, multimillion-dollar grant provided by the CDC to the state. Dr. Karen Liller, USF College of Public Health (COPH) professor and child and adolescent injury prevention expert, is the principal investigator overseeing Florida’s collection of data. USF investigators will take information from the medical examiner’s report, death certificate and law enforcement records, which will help researchers better understand the “why” of violent deaths.
Previously, Drs. Liller, Thomas, and Salinas had utilized the National Violent Death Registry System to compare the incidence of violent deaths during and after disasters in the United States (Study: Violent deaths during and after disasters: an ecological study; Previous Grant from APHA/CDC).
Researchers at the Harrell Center collaborate with a worldwide network of colleagues to address the determinants of intimate partner violence and its prevention. For example, a focus group study was conducted in Belize by Drs. Martha Coulter, Ismael Hoare, and others, to understand the perspective of rural indigenous populations. This study was part of a larger project that utilized the multiple streams theory and community based participatory research to frame the exploration of health in Indigenous populations. Multiple streams theory is an explanatory theory which discusses the relationships between issues relating to policy, the environment as well as establishing causal linkages. The larger project involved Panama, Ecuador, and Belize.
Researchers at the Harrell Center also conduct secondary data analysis using the demographic health surveys (DHS) of multiple countries around the world. The DHS system has collected accurate and representative datasets on population, health, HIV, intimate partner violence, and nutrition through more than 400 surveys in over 90 countries. The data are non-identified and publicly available by request for researchers. The most recent projects are led by Dr. Abraham Salinas, Dr. Nicholas Thomas, and Dr. Takudzwa Sayi (past post-doctoral fellow of the USF Center of Excellence in MCH) using the 2016 Haiti DHS, 2016 South Africa DHS, 2016 Nepal DHS, and the 2012 Nicaragua College of Public Health students are also mentored and participate in conducting the analyses, learn epidemiological skills, and how to do scientific writing. The purpose of the secondary analyses studies is to determine the role of socio-ecological determinants of intimate partner violence victimization in international settings (Haiti, Nicaragua, and South Africa). Other analyses with different datasets have also included reproductive health, mental health, and disasters (e.g. post-hurricane mental health issues in Florida).
The Harrell Center is also the home of research led by students on topics focusing on family violence. Ongoing dissertation research includes:
In addition to the aforementioned projects, the Harrell Center also collaborates with other faculty on diverse topics such as autism, obesity, family-centered care, maternal care, parent training, research ethics, among others.