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Meet the Researcher - Caroline Durham

MEET THE RESEARCHER LIVE ON APRIL 28‚Äč
Breakout Room: 28

Caroline_DurhamResearcher Name: Caroline Durham
Co-Presenter: Jonah Nordeen, Armani Sumpter
Title of Research: An Analysis of Perceptions and Personal Experiences of the Gun Violence Public Health Crisis
Division Representing: Social Sciences
Institution: Coastal Carolina University 
Institution Location: South Carolina
Home State: South Carolina
District Number: 7
Advisor/Mentor: Sharon Thompson
Funding Source: As part of a major gift to Coastal Carolina University from Kenneth E. Swain of Myrtle Beach, an endowment has been established to support a unique scholarship program for students studying health sciences. Students selected as Swain Scholars receive a scholarship of up to $5,000 per year based upon academic and financial criteria. Each year, up to four students are selected through a competitive process, including a faculty committee interview, and serve as Swain Scholars for a maximum of four semesters. Students selected to be Swain Scholars work with Coastal Carolina University faculty to research health-related issues and implement community health programs. The students plan health outreach programs, conduct health science research, and become involved with the College of Science Board of Visitors. 

Research Experience:  
Caroline Durham is a senior Swain Scholars at Coastal Carolina University. Caroline, a public health major with minors in psychology and communication, has volunteered in both East Africa and Colombia, South America doing public health and advocacy work and has worked in the emergency department of several hospitals as a medical scribe. She is also the president of the Public Health Honor Society at CCU. Caroline will be working with the Eastern Carolina Housing Organization as an intern to conduct needs assessments, strategic planning, implementation, and coordination. Caroline is also a member of the Honors College. 

Presentation Experience: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Coastal Carolina University's Undergraduate Research Competition for the spring of 2020 was cancelled and the initial presentation of the Swain research postponed. Despite the setback, each of the Swain Scholars has gained experience in public speaking and academic communication in many ways. As the president of the Public Health Honor Society, Caroline Durham also holds weekly meetings and presents information to Coastal Carolina University's public health community. All three presenters have taken part in many classroom-based presentation experiences throughout the course of their academic careers and have also had the opportunity to present their research findings to both the Gupta College of Science Board of Trustees as well as to other students and faculty involved in the Swain Scholars program.

Significance of Research:       
Gun violence is underexamined, controversial, widespread and affects millions in the United States every year. This 2020 study examined gun violence beliefs based on the presence or lack of guns in southeastern households. Most participants (N = 1003) were female (65%), under 30 years old (60%), White (78%), reported a gun in their household (57%), and had completed some college (91%). Individuals reporting guns in their household were significantly more likely to hold incorrect beliefs concerning matters such as whether or not individuals with a mental illness are more likely to be perpetrators of gun violence (GUN: M=2.35; NO GUN: M=2.68, p<.0001) and whether having a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide (GUN: M=3.54; NO GUN; M=2.69, p<.0001). They were also more likely to deem it appropriate to threaten or shoot an individual with a gun in multiple conflict scenarios such as during a physical altercation ([Threaten: GUN: M=2.97; NO GUN: M=3.58, p<.0001]; [Shoot: GUN: M=3.09; NO GUN: M=3.80, p<.0001]) or if someone broke into their home ([Threaten: GUN: M=1.61; NO GUN: M=2.24, p<.0001]; [Shoot: GUN: M=1.88; NO GUN: M=2.66, p <.0001]). Individuals from states with a Giffords Law Center failing gun safety rating were significantly more likely than others to know individuals who have been victims of gun violence through accidental injury (OR=2.49; p<.0001), accidental death (OR=2.32; p<.005), intentional death, (OR=3.07; p<.0001), or suicide (OR=2.36 p< .0001). Further research and education are needed to reduce the prevalence of gun violence and misconceptions.

Uniqueness of Research: 
Despite the extensive prevalence of gun violence in the United States, the issue remains contentious and misunderstood. Although gun violence affects nearly all Americans, personal experience and perceptions vary greatly. Examination of experiences and further conversation and education on the topic can do a great deal to mitigate the occurrence of gun violence and increase the safety of our communities.

 

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