Dr. McCloskey, the Founding Director    Welcome to the Center for Research on Health Disparities (C-RHD)! As Founding Director of C-RHD and Professor of Public Health in the Department of Applied Health Sciences in the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington I invite you to contact our Center for information on health disparities research activities, events and student opportunities at the IU-Bloomington campus.

    Social classifications based on race and ethnicity coincide with trends in health: In the United States Anglo-European whites tend to live longer and have healthier babies than African Americans or American Indians, for instance; poverty and social class also create a health gradient regardless of race. Understanding the reasons for such health disparities within a cultural context is crucial to change. The faculty and students at Indiana University-Bloomington study these problems from different disciplines and frameworks. Our research affiliates address a broad range of topics within the study of unequal health, addressing some of the following questions during the past year:

  • Why do some counties in Indiana have much higher rates of infant mortality than others?

  • Do racial attitudes of healthcare personnel affect maternal and infant outcomes?

  • What are the effects of coal mining on low-income children?

  • Will the Affordable Care Act increase access to Medicaid and what will be the benefits?

  • How can we increase children’s access to recreation and physical activity?

  • What are the barriers to breastfeeding among African-American mothers?

  • Can public health strengthen society’s response to domestic violence and child abuse?





The U.S. is 36th in health rankings worldwide just above Cuba and below Saudi Arabia


African Americans live on average fewer years than Whites (73 v. 78)


Women’s life expectancies dropped between 1983-1999 in more than 180 mostly rural counties; their premature deaths correlated with growing income inequality in those regions


African American infants are almost twice as likely to die (13.7/1000) within a month of birth than White neonates (6.7/1000) 


About Founding Director:

    Laura McCloskey (Ph.D.) is Founding Director of the Center for Research on Health Disparities and Professor of Public Health in the Department of Applied Health Sciences in the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington. She holds her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan (1986) and has held faculty positions at the University of Arizona, Harvard School of Public Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy, and the University of Illinois. She was the Director of the historic Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for children’s research in Detroit.  

    Professor McCloskey’s research program examines the long-term health consequences of domestic violence or gender-based abuse on women and their children. Her 10-year longitudinal study of 300 Latino and Anglo families half of whom were exposed to domestic violence shows lasting effects on children and especially girls as they enter adolescence. In particular there seems to be a “cycle of violence” transmitted between mothers who are victimized and the risk of victimization in their daughters which is observed across ethnic background. This study also demonstrated how intimate partner violence affects women’s mental health, and was followed by a study on women’s physical and emotional health in the aftermath of abuse. Results of this research demonstrated that women who received brief, verbal interventions from their health care providers showed notable improvement in their exposure to violence and in their well-being two years later. This study also focused on recently immigrated women from more than 20 different countries worldwide, showing unique risk of sexual abuse to young immigrant women (under 21) from any originating country. Professor McCloskey has also collaborated on projects around the world most recently in Tanzania and South Africa. 


Selected Papers:

McCloskey, L.A. (2013). The intergenerational transfer of mother-daughter risk for gender-based abuse. Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 41, 303-328

McCloskey, L.A. (2011). The impact of domestic violence on adolescents. In S. Graham- Bermann, A. Levendosky (Eds). The impact of domestic violence on children: Clinical perspectives. D.C.: American Psychological Association Publishing.

Williams, C., Larsen, U., & McCloskey, L.A. (2010). The impact of childhood sexual abuse and intimate partner violence on sexually transmitted infections. Violence and Victims, 25 (6) 787-798.

Thomas, K., Joshi, M., Wittenberg, E., & McCloskey, L.A. (2008). Intersections of harm and health: A qualitative study of women survivors of abuse. Violence against Women, 14 (11) 1274-1294

Williams, C.M., McCloskey, L.A., & Larsen, U. (2008). Sexual violence at first intercourse against women in Moshi, northern Tanzania: Prevalence, risk factors and consequences. Population Studies, 62, 335-348.

McCloskey, L.A., Williams C.M., Lichter E., Gerber, M., Ganz, M., Wittenberg E., & Sege, R. (2007). Abused women disclose partner interference with health care: An unrecognized form of battering. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 22, 1067-1072. (lead article)

McCloskey L.A., Lichter E, Williams C, Gerber M, Wittenberg E, & Ganz M. (2006). Assessing partner violence in healthcare settings leads to women patients’ improved well-being and health. Public Health Reports, 121, 435-444.

McCloskey, L.A., Larsen, U., & Williams C. (2005). Violence against women and the burden of HIV-AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Women’s Studies Journal, 19 (2)

Bailey, J. & McCloskey, L. A. (2005). Pathways to substance use among sexually abused girls. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33, 39-53.



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