Professors Research 5K Training For Domestic Violence Survivors

Dayna Maniccia and Janel Leone

Dayna Maniccia, left, and Janel Leone, right


Assistant Professor of Public Health Dayna Maniccia, DrPH, and Associate Professor of Law & Society Janel Leone, Ph.D., are evaluating the outcomes of a 5K training program for survivors of intimate partner violence. Most research on interventions for domestic violence survivors is focused on shelter-based services, like support groups; Maniccia and Leone’s study is believed to be the first to measure the effectiveness of a structured running program as a means to improve survivors’ well-being and interpersonal relationships.

The first phase of their research – a theoretical framework and protocol for the evaluation of Strong Through Every Mile, a running program for survivors of intimate partner violence in New York’s Capital Region – appeared in the journal BMC Public Health in June.

Strong Through Every Mile works with human service agencies and volunteers to provide training, running gear, race fees and, if needed, transportation and child care, for survivors of domestic violence as they prepare for a 5K race. Hundreds of people have crossed the finish line with Strong Through Every Mile since it was founded in 2013.

Dayna Maniccia, an avid runner, followed Strong Through Every Mile through friends who volunteer as running mentors. When she learned that the group had not conducted a formal evaluation, she offered her expertise. Strong Through Every Mile has several anecdotal examples of its positive impact said Maniccia, describing people who go on to achieve other goals after their 5K success – but as a nonprofit, it needs objective data to build its case for funding and support.

Maniccia asked Janel Leone, whose scholarship focuses on the dynamics and implications of violence against women, to collaborate. “I knew we could make an important contribution to the field,” said Leone. “As devastating and traumatizing as intimate partner violence is, there are ways we can effectively intervene and help survivors to flourish. But we need data to back up that statement.”

Maniccia and Leone’s recent journal article described the theory behind the Strong Through Every Mile program and the methods they used to measure the psychological health, social well-being and physical health of runners before and after participating in the program. The full results of their evaluation of Strong Through Every Mile’s effectiveness compared to other interventions are forthcoming.

Read “Theoretical framework and protocol for the evaluation of Strong Through Every Mile (STEM), a structured running program for survivors of intimate partner violence” by Professors Dayna M. Maniccia and Janel M. Leone.

“We know that exercise benefits more than physical health in general, and we suspect it has a particularly powerful effect on survivors of intimate partner violence,” said Leone. “If this holds up in the formal evaluation, Strong Through Every Mile will have scientific proof from an unbiased source that program leaders and funders can use for decision making,” said Maniccia.