Karen McDonnell

Karen McDonnell

Karen McDonnell


Associate Professor

School: Milken Institute School of Public Health

Department: Prevention and Community Health


Office Phone: 202-994-6823
950 New Hampshire Avenue, Office: 303 Washington DC 20052

Karen A. McDonnell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. 

Dr. McDonnell is a public health program evaluation and implementation specialist with over 20 years of experience working with community groups, public health agencies, and health care systems both locally and globally. Dr. McDonnell’s expertise lies in using mixed methods to look at complex public health issues and programs. Her most recent work includes collaborations to develop and test a community-centered FGM/C prevention project, evaluating the National Domestic Violence Hotline/loveisrespect Helpline, taking a public health approach to gender-based violence, and evaluating multi-systems changes in the Clinical Translational Science Institute with Children’s National and GWU. Dr. McDonnell has conducted trainings in public health policy, gender equity, and women’s leadership and teaches coursework in Program Evaluation, Maternal and Child Health, and works with undergraduate and graduate students, medical residents, and community groups to further the exploration of methods to meet our current complex public health challenges.  Dr. McDonnell is the recipient of the ASPPH Early Career in Public Health Teaching Award, ASPPH Academy of Distinguished Teachers, and the Milken Institute SPH Excellence in Teaching Award.

Community Health

Maternal and Child Health

Program Evaluation

Women's Health

Children's Health

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology/Biology), Hamilton College

Doctor of Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health 

PubH 6550: Maternal and Child Health I: Foundations
PubH 6501: Evaluation of Health Promotion Programs

Professor McDonnell was named to the Washington DC Mayor's Advisory Committee on Perinatal, Infant and Interconceptional Health. She works with several not-for-profit agencies and community health clinics that focus on the health and well-being of women, children and families in the metropolitan Washington, DC area and in Baltimore. She is a member of numerous professional organizations and a peer reviewer for several academic journals.

Dr. McDonnell currently conducts action based research on issues related to community health, health behavior and Maternal and Child Health locally, nationally, and globally. Currently funded research projects include:

1) Development and Testing of a Community Centered FGC Prevention Project

The objectives of the project are to use a 36-month community collaborative approach to the systematic and efficient evaluation of the multimethod approach towards the secondary and primary prevention of FGC. We will use a systematic investigative approach to develop and evaluate a ‘toolkit’ for health and service providers to effectively communicate with women who have experienced FGC and/or among those young females at risk for FGC. (Office of Women's Health/ DHHS)

2) Accomplishments of the Domestic Violence Hotline, Online Connections and Text (ADVHOCaT)

The objectives of the project are to evaluate the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Dating Abuse Helpline (“Love is Respect”).  An expert panel will serve to strategize and implement a complete evaluation secondary and primary data collection efforts. The evaluation information will be used to communicate and disseminate the accomplishments of the NDVH/NDAH and foster the creation of an efficient and effective process and performance monitoring system. (Funder: Department of Health and Human Services; Administration for Children and Families; Administration on Children, Youth and Families; Family and Youth Services Bureau Office of Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA))         

3) Assessing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) among Men w/at risk for HIV

The goal of the proposed research is to systematically evaluate the psychometrics of a brief measurement tool to examine IPV among men living with HIV or at risk for HIV. (Funder: DC CFAR Pilot Award)

4) The Clinical Translational Science Institute at Children’s National

The specific objectives of the CTSI-CN are to: provide state-of-the-art, flexible resources required by clinical and translational researchers; promote multidisciplinary clinical and translational research (CTR); promote demographic diversity and address health disparities; incorporate effective and sustained collaboration with community partners; ensure research efficiency. (Funder: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences National Institutes of Health 1UL1TR001876-01 Guay Woodford, Lisa (PI) 07/01/16-06/30/21)

5) GWU SPHHS Avance Center: Center for the Advancement of Latino and Refugee Health.

The project seeks to implement a program of research and interventions that focus on Latino Youth and the acute program of youth violence in Langley Park, MD. (Funder: Office of Minority Health 1UO1 CE 001955-01 Edberg, Mark (PI) 12/01/11-03/30/17

Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/karen.mcdonnell.1/bibliography… descending

The following are additional areas of research activities:

  • Concept Mapping
  • Gender based violence
  • Latino Health
  • Exergaming
  • Games for Health
  • Maternal and Child Health 
  • Child Health
  • Evaluation
  • Implementation

Mixed methodology in program evaluation. A substantial portion of my work has focused on program evaluation and implementation working with community groups, public health agencies, and health care systems both locally and globally. My expertise lies in using mixed methods to look at complex public health issues and programs. To this end I have previously used concept mapping to generate multilevel, complex maps to inform behavioral examine ways to increase physical activity using new technologies among school-aged children in a safe and supervised environment.

1.     Visek, A. J., Achrati, S. M., Manning, H., McDonnell, K., Harris, B. S., & DiPietro, L. (2014). The Fun Integration Theory: Towards sustaining children and adolescents sport participation. Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

  1. Borsky AE, McDonnell K, Turner M, Rimal R, Raising a Red Flag on Dating Violence: Evaluation of a Low-Resource, College-Based Bystander Behavior Intervention Program, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2016 Jan, http://jiv.sagepub.com/cont...
  2. Burke JG, O'Campo P, Peak GL, Gielen AC, McDonnell KA, Trochim WM. (2005). An introduction to concept mapping as a participatory public health research method.
  3. Miller TA, Vaux-Bjerke A, McDonnell KA and DiPietro L. Can e-gaming be useful for achieving recommended levels of MVPA in inner-city children? Games for Health. January 2013) doi:10.1089/g4h.2012.0058

Gender-based violence. I have contributed to a better understanding of gender-based violence in immigrant communities, evaluating the National Domestic Violence Hotline/loveisrespect helpline, and taking a public health approach to gender based violence and HIV. These projects have led to greater understandings of gender-based violence and how to address this pressing, preventable public health problem.

1.     Illangasekare SL, Burke JG, McDonnell KA, Gielen AC. The impact of intimate partner violence, substance use, and HIV on depressive symptoms among abused low-income urban women. J Interpers Violence. 2013 Sep;28(14):2831-48. PubMed PMID: 23686617.

2.     McDonnell KA, Burke JG, Gielen AC, O’Campo PJ. The role of behavioral theory in designing and evaluating interventions for intimate partner violence. In: Gielen AC, Sleet D, DiClemente RJ, editors. Handbook of Injury Prevention: Behavior Change Theories, Methods and Applications. New York: Jossey-Bass.

  1. Panchanadeswaran S, Ting L, Burke J, O’Campo P, McDonnell KA, Gielen AC. Profiling abusive men based on women’s self-reports: Findings from a community-based sample. Violence Against Women. 2010 Mar;16(3):313-27. Epub 2010 Jan 22.PMID: 20097846.
  2. McDonnell KA, Gielen AC, Burke JG, O’Campo P. What are the perceived social norms towards assisting abused women? Development of an Intimate Partner Violence Social Norms and Community Interaction Scale. J Urban Health. 2011 Apr;88(2):240-53. PMID: 21336504

Health systems and delivery of care. I have worked on multi-level aspects of health systems on a local, national and global level most recently through the Clinical Translational Science Institute with Children’s National and GW, examining how different providers play in to delivery of patient care.

1.      McDonnell KA, Strobino DM, Baldwin KM, Grason H, Misra DP. Comparison of FIMR programs with other perinatal systems initiatives. Matern Child Health J. 2004 Dec;8(4):231-8. PubMed PMID: 15623145.

  1. Curbow B, Fogarty LA, McDonnell KA, Chill J, Scott LB. The role of physician characteristics in clinical trial acceptance: testing pathways of influence. Journal of Health Communication. 2006; 11(2): 199-218.
  2. Minkovitz CS, Chandra A, Solomon BS, McDonnell KA, Silver GB, Tonniges TF. Community Pediatrics: Gender differences in perspectives of residents. Ambulatory pediatrics, 2006 6(6): 326-31.
  3. World Bank Zimbabwe RBF Team (Mutasa R Team Leader). (2014). Learning from Learning from Implementation: Process Monitoring and Evaluation of Zimbabwe’s Results Based Financing (RBF)Project: The Case of Mazowe, Chipinge, Zvishavane, Binga and Kariba Districts

Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/karen.mcdonnell.1/bibliography… descending