Professors Research 5K Training For Domestic Violence Survivors

Dayna Maniccia, DrPH, and Janel Leone, Ph.D.

Dayna Maniccia, DrPH, and Janel Leone, Ph.D.

Professor of Public Health Dayna Maniccia, DrPH, and Associate Professor of Law & Society Janel Leone, Ph.D., are evaluating the outcomes of a 5K training program for survivors of intimate partner violence with support from a $10,000 grant from the National Council on Family Relations. Most research on interventions for domestic violence survivors has focused on shelter-based services, like support groups; Maniccia and Leone’s study is the first to measure the effectiveness of a structured running program as a means to improve survivors’ well-being and interpersonal relationships. The project will assist a local program and extend research opportunities to students in several disciplines.

Strong Through Every Mile

Strong Through Every Mile works in conjunction with human service agencies and volunteers to provide training, running gear, race fees and, if needed, transportation and childcare, for survivors of domestic violence as they prepare for a 5K race. Five survivors and two case managers participated in the first session in 2013; since then, more than 100 women have crossed the finish line with Strong Through Every Mile. Maniccia, an avid runner, followed the program through friends who volunteer as running mentors. When she learned that the group had not conducted a formal evaluation, she offered her expertise in program planning and evaluation. Strong Through Every Mile has several anecdotal examples of its impact said Maniccia, describing women who have gone on to achieve other goals after their 5K success – but as a nonprofit, it will need objective data to build its case for funding and support.

Maniccia asked Janel Leone, whose scholarship focuses on the dynamics and implications of violence against women, to collaborate. “I knew we could make an important contribution to the field,” said Leone. “As devastating and traumatizing as intimate partner violence is, there are ways we can effectively intervene and help women to flourish. But we need data to back up that statement.”

The National Council on Family Relations grant is supporting the design and administration of a pre- and post-test for Strong Through Every Mile participants and a control group. “We’re focused on psychological health, social well-being, personal relationships and physical health,” said Leone. “We know that exercise benefits more than physical health in general, and we suspect it has a particularly powerful effect on this population.”

“If this holds up in the formal evaluation, Strong Through Every Mile will have scientific proof from an unbiased source that program leaders and funders can use for decision making,” said Maniccia.

A Truly Interdisciplinary Project

Johanna Muller ’17 worked with Maniccia to draft a logic model for Strong Through Every Mile. A logic model is a document that charts the relationship between the resources, activities, results and impact of a program; it is a key strategic planning tool in general, and a necessary precursor to a formal evaluation.

Muller said that her work on the logic model was very different than the work she usually conducts for her Nutrition Sciences major and a great way to broaden her skillset. “This will most definitely help me stand out [on graduate school applications and with employers],” she said.

“This is a truly interdisciplinary project,” said Leone, describing how several students from Sage’s Health Sciences, Management, Law & Society and Psychology programs have been or will be involved in conducting focus groups, administering surveys, collecting and analyzing data, and other aspects of the evaluation through fall 2017. “Passion for anything is contagious, and when students see professors excited about their research and its potential impact on the community, their motivation to learn grows immeasurably.”