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ETSU nursing professor recognized for research on military sexual trauma

Contributed • Jan 10, 2020 at 5:54 PM

Dr. Patricia Harnois-Church, assistant professor at East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing, was recognized for her virtual poster highlighting her research on the role of interest groups in shaping U.S. governmental responses to military sexual trauma.

Harnois-Church earned first place in the faculty division of the Rural Health Association of Tennessee’s Fourth Annual Virtual Poster Competition. Her virtual poster went on to win First Place Overall, earning the highest score of all 31 virtual poster submissions.

MST, which is the focus of her research, includes sexual harassment or assault during military service.

“MST is a pervasive problem in the U.S. Armed Forces, with a myriad of immediate and lifelong health consequences on survivors who are disproportionately female,” Harnois-Church said. “The purpose of my study was to investigate the political strategies of national interest groups engaged in activities focused on prevention of MST and advocacy for victims of MST.”

Harnois-Church conducted interviews with six individuals – one from a national interest group, three from registered lobbyist organizations and two congressional staff members from offices of members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Based on the interviews, she identified and organized eight strategies these individuals use when dealing with MST.

Through her research, Harnois-Church identified four areas that could rectify some of the problems relating to MST. These include: creating stronger policies against retaliation, providing incentives for the reduction of retaliation, revising administrative processes for reviewing discharges and reviewing the effectiveness of sexual assault and response training programs.

“It is my hope that better understanding of strategies of interest groups and how they interact with each other and with congressional staff may increase the likelihood of achieving policy and legislative goals related to MST,” Harnois-Church said.

To learn more about the College of Nursing, visit www.etsu.edu/nursing.

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