O’Neil IUPUI Assistant Professor Lauren Magee spent six years working at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department as a crime analyst. When she left to pursue her Ph.D., she wanted to learn more about the disparities among those who experience gun violence.
“There is an unequal victimization of people who experience gun violence when it comes to location, race, and access to health care and social services,” Magee says.
She started studying nonfatal shootings—and what she found was a lack of information.
“We still don’t fully understand what leads up to nonfatal shootings or the effects they have on the victims and communities,” Magee explains. “Surviving a shooting sometimes comes with physical disabilities and psychological trauma for the victim, their family, and the community.”
Magee says that while there is plenty of data on fatal shootings, there’s no national dataset for nonfatal shootings, and what data is available is limited. She cites a lack of federal funding during the past 30 years as one of the reasons there’s so little research on the topic.
But she hopes to change that—and learn whether taking a public health approach to prevention could make a difference.
“We need to know more so we can implement better trauma-informed services to help survivors and communities,” she says. “I want to understand how we can better connect victims and families with the behavioral health services they may need.”
A new award will help her do just that. Magee is now one of 10 people named as 2021 Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) KL2 Early Career Investigator awardees. Each awardee receives $7,200 in pilot funding annually, which may be spent on their research project and travel to the annual national Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) meeting each spring to present their research.
As part of the award, she has focused on identifying disparities and barriers to care for victims and how to improve long-term behavioral health outcomes for shooting survivors and their loved ones.
Before she arrived at the O’Neill School, Magee was a postdoctoral fellow at the IU School of Medicine. Her diverse background in public health and as a criminologist helped her better understand the cultural, neighborhood, and social dynamics that often go along with gun violence.
“It helps provide context for why someone may or may not trust a doctor or a police officer who is interviewing them in the emergency room,” she explains.
She has studied gun violence in Marion County through partnerships with the police department and clinical systems. Her most recent study, published in the journal Homicide Studies in September 2021, examined geographic differences in fatal and nonfatal shootings in Indianapolis and associated neighborhood factors, like abandoned homes and levels of concentrated disadvantage.
She’s now partnering with a local community group to interview shooting victims and their caregivers. She hopes this direct connection will ensure her research and any potential recommendations remain relevant to the needs of victims and the communities who experience gun violence every day.
That includes the changes that have come along with the pandemic. Magee says researchers are still working to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nonfatal shootings. She said preliminary results show it has certainly made a difference in how many shootings have happened, as well as who has been a victim.
“We’ve seen an increase in female victims and older victims, and we need to know more about how the current increase in gun violence in Marion County is changing throughout this pandemic,” she says. “We need to better understand the full health impact of gun violence during this pandemic so we can connect people and communities to the most effective recovery resources.”
The Indiana CTSI is currently accepting applications for the 2022 KL2 awardees. Interested applicants are encouraged to submit their CV to Patricia McGuire for eligibility pre-screening by December 15, 2021. Find more information about the program here.