Public support for research on child abuse and neglect may actually have fallen over the last 15 years.
There is a serious shortage of researchers in the field and some important researchers have left the field.
Some particular research topics important to the development of effective prevention and treatment programs have been especially understudied.
Another study, by the Education Development Center and Children’s Hospital and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, examined the health care system’s response to family violence in five communities. It found that, despite recognition in the health care community that family violence is an important problem, health care systems are not playing a central role in responding to it. Health care professionals pay little attention to the identification, treatment, follow-up, or prevention of family violence, and those who do are often marginalized (De Vos et al., 1992).
These previous reports and studies raise the question of how to build the field of family violence in order to create the capacity to address the problem effectively. A number of approaches are possible. Efforts may focus on producing scholars, supporting research, developing training capacity, encouraging collaborative efforts, or some combination of these goals. To facilitate the growth of scholars in particular research areas, for example, the National Institutes of Health offer awards called K Awards for individual career development in new areas of research. Health professional organizations and federal agencies have developed subspecialty training to develop clinical scholars in particular fields (see Chapter 6 for a discussion of the developmental pediatrics and adolescent medicine subspecialties). Private foundations sponsor fellowships to develop clinical scholars in specific areas. Examples of these include the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars program and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellowships in Health Policy Research. To encourage research, a number of federal agencies and private foundations have offered grant programs in family violence, calling for research proposals and funding a select few. This research support has been offered through grant programs that specify topics or allow investigators to propose topics within general categories. Other efforts have the primary goal of developing training programs and providing training. For example, geriatric education centers were created to develop, support, and provide health professionals with training in geriatrics.
Each of these approaches offers advantages and disadvantages. The benefits of a focus on developing scholars include the creation of a core of individuals who are competent to handle working with family violence victims and possess the knowledge and experience to provide training to other health care professionals. However, this approach is limited in the number of scholars that can be produced; other health care professionals and interested parties in need of training may not have access to these experts. Developing research opportunities can generate information