Deborah Girasek came to the Center for Injury Research & Policy as a mid-career public health practitioner. She had an MPH from the University of Michigan and considerable experience working on health communications and program development, but she wanted to strengthen her research skills and learn more about injury control. Deborah had what she describes as the "ultimate good fortune" to work with Dr. Andrea Gielen as her thesis advisor. Together they designed a national, random-digit dial telephone survey to explore public perceptions of fatal, unintentional injuries. Did Americans view these such deaths to be preventable, and if so, how did they think fatal injuries could best be prevented?
This work was supported by the Lowes Home Safety Council, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and with help from the Injury Center's own CDC funding. Dr. Girasek's findings--particularly with regard to public interpretations of the word "accident"--have received considerable attention since they were published. Deborah is currently the Director of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the Department of Preventive Medicine & Biometrics in the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, a Federal medical school in Bethesda, Maryland. She continues to promote needs assessment, and trains health professionals obtaining graduate degrees in public health in how to develop and evaluate behavior change programs. She also oversees a research portfolio that focuses on the psychosocial aspects of unintentional injury prevention.