UB social work professor receives prestigious grant to study recurrent violent injury

Chris St. Vil’s literature review will bring cohesion to a complicated research area.

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Chris St. Vil

“This is a public health imperative that should concern everyone. Identifying this information and bringing it all together will help us prevent the kinds of injuries responsible for re-current emergency room visits.”
Chris St. Vil, assistant professor of social work
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded Chris St. Vil, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, a $50,000 grant through its New Connections program to conduct a literature review on recurrent violent injury (RVI).

The New Connections program provides research grants and career development opportunities for early-career scholars.

Though cited frequently in many studies since the 1980s, this widespread and common problem lacks a cohesive definition.  Sometimes called trauma recidivism or poly-victimization, RVI is a succession of traumatic events over time that requires repeated emergency room treatment or hospitalization for its victims.

St. Vil’s review will identify, combine and analyze the different occurrences and multiple definitions of this complicated phenomenon into a holistic universal understanding that pinpoints risk factors and potential preventative measures.

“I’ll not only be able to see which demographic groups are suffering from violent injury at disproportionate rates, but will also identify the mechanism of injury,” says St. Vil. “Off the top of our head, we might think that young black males suffer most from violent injury, but within that population are many possibilities like blunt injury, gunshot wounds and stabbings.”

RVI is commonly associated with victimization, such as gun violence, but St. Vil says it also includes incidents such as domestic violence, falls in the elderly and childhood injuries.

“This is a public health imperative that should concern everyone,” says St. Vil. “Identifying this information and bringing it all together will help us prevent the kinds of injuries responsible for re-current emergency room visits.

St. Vil’s research interest in this area grew from a study he co-investigated in Maryland as a postdoctoral fellow on black males and victimization. By looking at the literature on victimization, the concept of RVI drew his attention, but he realized that the literature was not well organized.

He says there was a concentration of research on black males in order to help curb violence, but there needs to be a better understanding of RVI in general. By taking a flyover view of the problem, injury prevention can begin in earnest for all the vulnerable populations.

“I’m hoping through this work that I’m able to shed more light on this serious issue,” he says.  “We don’t know enough about it and we must create some awareness.”

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