Beth Molnar Biography

Beth Molnar - Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research, Northeastern University

Beth Molnar, SCD

Director of Violence Prevention and Trauma Studies, IHESJR
Director, PhD Program in Population Health
Professor of Health Sciences

[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Public Mental Health
Violence and prevention
Vicarious Trauma


Professor Molnar is a social and psychiatric epidemiologist and a Professor in the Department of Health Sciences. She is the Director of the Population Health PhD Program and the Associate Director of the Institute of Health Equity and Social Justice Research (IHESJR) at Northeastern University.

Dr. Molnar’s research is grounded in three public health domains: social epidemiology, prevention science, and psychiatric epidemiology.  Studies focus on two major areas: (1) violent, traumatic experiences (such as child maltreatment, sexual violence, community violence) and the ways that they affect children, youth and those who respond to those who experience violence, i.e. vicarious trauma; and (2) the social context of high-risk behaviors among adolescents (the latter often being sequelae of the first.)

One main area of Dr. Molnar’s expertise is multilevel methods, where she utilizes neighborhood-level analyses for insight into both etiology and prevention strategies.  Another main area of expertise is community-based participatory research methodology, from systematic needs assessments to multilevel research designs, to survey/measures development, to evaluation research, to implementation, to analyses and dissemination.  Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, Dr. Molnar’s work, strongly influenced by Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Theory of Human Development, has focused on identifying neighborhood-level resources that can be mobilized to decrease levels of violence both in families and in communities.

Current projects on which she is the Principal Investigator include the Vicarious Trauma Toolkit project funded by the Office for Victims of Crime; evaluation of three different federally funded interventions to prevent social emotional and behavioral disorders among young children; an NIH-funded evaluation study of Start Strong Boston, a middle school age dating violence preventive intervention delivered in after school programs; and a Tier 1 study of the role of justice in healing from sexual assault.

Prior to joining Northeastern, Dr. Molnar was an Associate Professor of Society, Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health where she co-founded the Boston Data Project at the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, where ongoing surveillance of youth violence and its risk and protective factors has been done since 2004. These efforts have involved active collaborations with the Boston Public Health Commission, the MA Department of Public Health, Boston Public Schools, national organizations representing first responders and victim services providers, the Boston Police Department, among others.

Outside of Northeastern, Dr. Molnar is the Board President of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, a non-profit with a mission to end sexual violence through healing and social justice.

Publications – Past Five Years

Beatriz ED, Lincoln A, Alder J, Daley N, Simmons F, Ibeh K, Figueroa C, Molnar BE.* Evaluation of a teen dating violence prevention intervention among urban middle-school youth using Youth Participatory Action Research: Lessons learned from Start Strong Boston Journal of Family Violence 2018; 33(8): 563-578.

Beatriz ED, Molnar BE,* Griffith JL, Salhi C. Urban-rural disparity and urban population growth: A multi-level analysis of under-five mortality in 30 sub-Saharan African countries. Health and Place 2018; 52: 196-204.

Beatriz ED, Salhi C, Griffith, JL, Molnar BE.* Urbanicity matters in self-reported child maltreatment prevalence: Findings from a nationally representative study. Child Abuse & Neglect 2018; 79: 371-383.

Johnson RM, Duncan DT, Gilreath T, Rothman EF, Hemenway D, Molnar BE, Azrael D. Fighting with siblings and with peers among urban high school students.  Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2015; Vol. 30(13): 2221-37.

Molnar BE, Beatriz ED, Beardslee WR. Community-level approaches to child maltreatment prevention. Trauma, Violence & Abuse 2016; Vol. 17(4): 387-97.

Molnar BE, Goerge RM, Gilsanz P, Subramanian SV, Holton JK, Hill A, Duncan DT, Beatriz ED, Beardslee WR.  Neighborhood-level social processes and substantiated cases of child maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect 2016; Vol. 51: 41-53. (Winner of journal’s award for “Paper of the Year – 2016”)

Molnar BE, Lees K, Roper K, Byars N, Mendez-Penate L, Moulin C, McMullen W, Wolfe J, Allen D. Enhancing early childhood mental health primary care services: Evaluation of MA Project LAUNCH. Journal of Maternal & Child Health 2018; 22(10): 1502-1510. Free to download:

Molnar BE, Sprang G, Killian KD, Gottfried R, Emery V, Bride BE. Advancing science & practice for vicarious traumatization/secondary traumatic stress: A research agenda. Traumatology 2017; 23(2): 129-142.

Pabayo R, Hemenway D, Dias J, Molnar BE.* Sweetened beverage consumption is a risk factor for depressive symptoms among adolescents living in Boston, Massachusetts. Public Health Nutrition 2016; 19(17): 3062-3069.

Pabayo R, Kawachi I, Grinshteyn E, Gilman S, Molnar BE.* Income inequality within urban neighborhoods and depressive symptoms among adolescents. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 2016; Vol. 70(10): 997-1003.

Pabayo R, Molnar BE* Craddock A, Kawachi I. The relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and physical inactivity among adolescents living in Boston, Massachusetts. American Journal of Public Health 2014; Vol. 104(11): e142-9.v

Pabayo RA, Molnar BE*, Johnson R, Kawachi I. The relationship between social fragmentation and sleep among adolescents living in Boston, Massachusetts. Journal of Public Health 2014; Vol. 36(4): 587-598.

Pabayo R, Molnar BE,* Kawachi I. The role of neighborhood income inequality in adolescent aggression and violence. Journal of Adolescent Health 2014; Vol. 55(4): 571-579.

Pabayo R, Molnar BE,* Kawachi I. Witnessing a violent death and smoking, alcohol consumption, and marijuana use among adolescents. Journal of Urban Health 2014; Vol. 91(2): 335-354.

Scoglio AAJ, Kraus SW, Saczinski J, Molnar BE.* Systematic review of risk and protective factors for revictimization after child sexual abuse. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, Published online ahead of print 1/22/19.

Street NW, McCormick MC, Austin SB, Slopen N, Habre R, Molnar BE.* Examining family and neighborhood level predictors of sleep duration in urban youth. Families, Systems and Health 2018; 36(4), 439-450.

Street NW, McCormick MC, Austin SB, Slopen N, Habre R, Molnar BE.* Sleep duration and risk of physical aggression against peers in urban youth Sleep Health 2016; Vol. 2(2): 129-135.