Beth E. Molnar, ScD

Associate Professor
  • Department of Health Sciences

Office: 330 INV
Phone: (617) 373-8936

Professor Molnar is a social and psychiatric epidemiologist affiliated with the Department of Health Sciences and the Institute for Urban Health Research (IUHR) at Northeastern University.  She is a member of the core faculty of the MPH program in Urban Health in Health Sciences, and an Associate Director at the IUHR.  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 and youth, 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 most recent 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.  She is also a co-investigator on the ongoing 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. This work has led to active collaborations with the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Police Department, among others, to develop coordinated responses to traumatized youth. Prior to joining Northeastern, Dr. Molnar was an Associate Professor of Society, Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.  She maintains a Visiting Scientist appointment with the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center.

Doctor of Science (ScD) & Masters of Science (SM), Harvard School of Public Health
Bachelor’s of Science (BS), University of California, Los Angeles

Child abuse and neglect, community-level prevention, Social and psychiatric epidemiology

Research Interests: 
Etiology and sequelae of child maltreatment; community-level prevention of child maltreatment; multi-level prevention of youth violence; effects of exposure to complex trauma; prevention of sexual violence

Selected Research Projects:

  • Project LAUNCH – Evaluation of the SAMHSA-funded Boston site of Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) an effort to integrate behavioral health services for young children (birth to 8) from high risk families into community-based pediatric medical homes. The initiative is being conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission, in conjunction with providers at two community health centers and one hospital-based pediatric primary care clinic.
  • Boston Data Project, Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center – Biannual surveys of high school-aged youth in Boston Public Schools, as well as adults in Boston neighborhoods, have been conducted since 2004.  The goal is to provide surveillance data on youth violence and its associated risk and protective factors for both research purposes as well as to share with the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Police Department, and community-based organizations for planning and policy purposes.

Public Service (Current):

  • Officer and Member of Board of Directors, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center,
  • Member of the Editorial Board for the journal Child Maltreatment, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC)
  • Ad-hoc Reviewer, National Institutes for Health, Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention (PDRP) study section
  • Member of Collaborative, Defending Childhood Initiative, Boston Public Health Commission
  • Member, Working Group on Child Maltreatment Data Collection (WGCMDC), International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN)


  • Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, Harvard School of Public Health / Visiting Scientist
  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center / Member of Board of Directors


  • PHTH 2350 – Community and Public Health
  • PHTH 5540 – Health Education and Program Planning

Peer-reviewed Publications
*Denotes Senior Author

Molnar BE. Juveniles and psychiatric institutionalization: Toward a better system of due process and treatment review in the U.S.  Health and Human Rights 1997; Vol. 2(2): 99-116.

Kral AH, Molnar BE, Booth RE, Watters JK.  Prevalence of sexual risk behavior among runaway and homeless adolescents in San Francisco, Denver and New York City. International Journal of STD & AIDS 1997; Vol. 8: 109-117.

Molnar BE, Shade SB, Kral AH, Booth RE, Watters JK.  Suicidal behavior and sexual/physical abuse among street youth. Child Abuse & Neglect 1998; Vol. 22(3): 213-222.

Merikangas KR, Mehta RL, Molnar BE, Walters EE, Swendsen JD, Auilar-Gaziola S, Bijl R, Borges G, Caraveo-Anduaga JJ, DeWit DJ, Kolody B, Vega WA, Wittchen HU, Kessler RC.  Comorbidity of substance use disorders with mood and anxiety disorders: Results of the International Consortium in Psychiatric Epidemiology (ICPE). Addictive Behaviors 1998; Vol. 23(6): 893-907.

Wechsler H, Molnar BE, Davenport AE, Baer JS.  College alcohol use: A full or empty glass?  The Journal of American College Health 1999; Vol. 47 (6): 247-252.

Kessler RC, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Andrade L, Bijl R, Borges G, Caraveo-Anduaga JJ, DeWit DJ, Kolody B, Merikangas KR, Molnar BE, Vega WA, Walters EE, Wittchen HU, Ustun TB. Mental-substance comorbidities in the ICPE surveys.  Psychiatria Fennica 2001; Vol. 32 (suppl 2): 62-79.

Kessler RC, Molnar BE, Feurer ID, Appelbaum M. Patterns and mental health predictors of domestic violence in the United States: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey.  International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 2001; Vol. 24 (4-5): 487-508.

Molnar BE, Berkman LF, Buka SL. Psychopathology, child sexual abuse, and other childhood adversities: Relative links to subsequent suicidal behavior in the U.S. Psychological Medicine 2001; Vol. 31: 965-977.

Molnar BE, Buka SL, Kessler RC.  Child sexual abuse and subsequent psychopathology: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey. American Journal of Public Health 2001; Vol. 91(5): 753-760.

Vega WA, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Andrade L, Bijl R, Borges G, Caraveo-Anduaga JJ, DeWit DJ, Heeringa SG, Kessler RC, Kolody B, Merikangas KR, Molnar BE, Walters EE, Warner LA, Wittchen HU. Prevalence and age of onset for drug use in seven international sites: results from the international consortium of psychiatric epidemiology. Drug & Alcohol Dependence 2002; Vol. 68:  285-297.

Molnar BE, Buka SL, Brennan RT, Holton JK, Earls F. A multi-level study of parent-to-child physical aggression: results from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. Child Maltreatment 2003; Vol. 8(2): 84-97.

Molnar BE, Gortmaker SL, Bull FC, Buka SL.  Unsafe to play?  Neighborhood disorder and lack of safety predict reduced physical activity among urban children and adolescents.   American Journal of Health Promotion 2004; Vol. 18(5): 378-386. 

Molnar BE, Miller MJ, Azrael D, Buka SL. Neighborhood predictors of concealed firearm carrying among children and adolescents: Results from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods.  Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2004; Vol. 158: 657-664.

Molnar BE, Roberts A, Browne A, Gardener H, Buka SL.  What girls need: Recommendations for preventing violence among urban girls in the U.S.  Social Science & Medicine 2005; Vol. 60(10): 2191-2204.

Molnar BE, Browne A, Cerda M, Buka SL.  Violent behavior by girls reporting violent victimization: A prospective study.  Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2005; Vol. 159: 731-739.

Brennan RT, Molnar BE, Earls F.   Refining the measurement of exposure to violence (ETV) in urban youth.  Journal of Community Psychology 2007; Vol. 35(5): 603-618.

Borges G, Benjet C, Medina-Mora ME, Orozco R, Molnar BE, Nock MK. Negative life events and suicide-related outcomes among Mexico City adolescents.  Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 2008; 49(6): 654-666.

Austin SB, Roberts AL, Corliss, H, Molnar BE.* Sexual violence victimization history and sexual risk indicators in a community-based urban cohort of “mostly heterosexual” and heterosexual young women. American Journal of Public Health 2008; Vol. 98(6):  1015-1020.

Almeida J, Cohen AP, Subramanian SV, Molnar BE.* Increased worker caseloads in state child protective service agencies as a potential explanation for the decline in child sexual abuse: A multilevel analysis.  Child Abuse & Neglect 2008; Vol. 32(3): 367-375.

Molnar BE, Cerda M, Roberts AL, Buka SL.  Neighborhood resources: Effects on aggressive and delinquent behaviors among urban youth.  American Journal of Public Health 2008; Vol. 98(6): 1086-1093.

Reed E, Silverman JG, Raj A, Rothman EF, Decker MR, Gottlieb BR, Molnar BE, & Miller E. Social and environmental contexts of adolescent and young adult male perpetrators of intimate partner violence: A qualitative study. American Journal of Men's Health 2008; Vol. 2(3): 260-271.

Almeida J, Kawachi I, Subramanian SV, Molnar BE.* Ethnicity and nativity status as determinants of perceived social support: Testing the concept of familism.  Social Science & Medicine 2009; Vol. 68(10): 1852-8.

Miller MJ, Barber C, Azrael D, Hemenway D, Molnar BE.* Recent psychopathology, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in households with vs. without firearms: findings from the National Comorbidity Study Replication. Injury Prevention 2009; Vol. 15(3):  183-7.

Almeida J, Johnson RM, Corliss HL, Molnar BE, Azrael D. Emotional distress Among LGBT youth: The influence of perceived discrimination based on sexual orientation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 2009; Vol. 38(7): 1001-1014.

LeWinn KZ, Stroud LR, Molnar BE, Ware JH, Koenen KC, Buka SL. Elevated maternal cortisol levels during pregnancy are associated with reduced childhood IQ. International Journal of Epidemiology 2009; Vol. 38(6): 1700-1710.

Almeida J, Kawachi I, Molnar BE, Subramanian SV. A multilevel analysis of social ties and social cohesion among Latino immigrants and their neighborhoods: Results from Chicago.  Journal of Urban Health 2009; Vol. 86(5): 745-759.

Reed E, Raj A, Falbo G, Caminha F, Decker MR, Kaliel DC, Missmer SA, Molnar BE, Silverman JG.  The prevalence of violence and relation to depression and illicit drug use among incarcerated women in Recife, Brazil.  International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 2009; Vol. 32(5): 323-328.

Duncan DT, Johnson RM, Molnar BE, Azrael D. Association between neighborhood safety and overweight status among urban adolescents.  BioMed Central Public Health 2009; Vol. 9, Article 289.

Azrael D, Johnson RM, Molnar BE, Vriniotis M, Dunn E, Duncan DT, Hemenway D.  Creating a youth violence data system for Boston, Massachusetts.  Australia and New Zealand Journal of Criminology 2009; Vol. 42(3): 406-421.

Corliss HL, Austin SB, Roberts AL, Molnar BE.* Sexual risk in “mostly heterosexual” young women: Influence of social support and caregiver mental health.  Journal of Women’s Health 2009; Vol. 18(12): 2005-1010.

Jain S, Buka SL, Subramanian SV, Molnar BE.* Neighborhood predictors of dating violence victimization and perpetration in young adulthood:  A multi-level study.  American Journal of Public Health 2010; Vol. 100(9): 1737-1744.

Almeida J, Subramanian SV, Kawachi I, Molnar BE.* Is blood thicker than water? Social support, depression and the modifying role of ethnicity/nativity status. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2011; Vol. 65: 51-56.

Borges G, Azrael D, Almeida J, Johnson RM, Molnar BE, Hemenway D, Miller MJ. Immigration, suicide ideation and deliberate self-injury in the Boston Youth Survey.  Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior 2011; Vol. 41(2): 193-202.

Green JG, Dunn EC, Johnson RM, Molnar BE.* A multilevel investigation of the association between school context and adolescent non-physical bullying.  Journal of School Violence 2011; Vol. 10(2):  133-149.

Rothman E, Johnson RM, Young R, Weinberg J, Azrael D, Molnar BE.* Neighborhood factors predict physical teen dating violence perpetration:  Results from a representative survey of Boston public high school-attending youth.  Journal of Urban Health 2011; Vol. 88(2): 201-213.

Dunn EC, Gilman SE, Willett JB, Slopen NB, Molnar BE.*  The impact of exposure to interpersonal violence on gender differences in adolescent-onset major depression:  Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R).  Depression and Anxiety 2012; Vol. 29(5): 392-399.

Hepburn L, Azrael D, Molnar BE, Miller M.  Bullying and suicidal behaviors among urban high school youth.  Journal of Adolescent Health 2012; Vol. 51: 93-95.

Jain S, Buka SL, Subramanian SV, Molnar BE.* Protective factors for youth exposed to violence: Role of developmental assets for building emotional resilience. Journal of Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice (in press).

Books and Monographs

Molnar BE.  Child abuse, neglect and health (2004).  Encyclopedia of Health and Behavior, Editor: Anderson N.  Sage Publications Inc: Thousand Oaks, CA.  Pgs. 167-170.

Kessler RC, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Andrade L, Bijl R, Borges G, Caraveo-Anduaga JJ, DeWit DJ, Kolody B, Merikangas KR, Molnar BE, Vega WA, Walters EE, Wittchen HU.  Cross-national comparisons of comorbidities between substance use disorders and mental disorders: Results from the International Consortium in Psychiatric Epidemiology (2003). Handbook for Drug Abuse Prevention, Theory, Science, and Practice.  Bukoski WJ and Sloboda Z (eds.), Plenum Publishing Corporation: New York. Pgs. 447-472.

Molnar BE.  Community-level prevention of child abuse and neglect.  Handbook of Child Maltreatment, Editors: Korbin J, Krugman R.  Springer Scientific. (Forthcoming)