Contact Information

Preventive Medicine and Biometrics: Faculty

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799
Building A, Room 2055A
Phone: (301) 295-9775

Deborah C. Girasek, Director, Social and Behavioral Sciences Division, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics

Deborah C. Girasek

Director, Social and Behavioral Sciences Division


  • MPH Health Education/Health Behavior, University of Michigan School of Public Health
  • PhD Social and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health


Dr. Girasek currently serves as the Director of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. In that capacity she oversees graduate training in the social and behavioral aspects of public health. Her research focuses on unintentional injuries. In particular, Dr. Girasek is interested in increasing the adoption of evidence-based injury prevention methods. Her work is widely published, and she is frequently invited to speak in national and international venues.


Dr. Girasek has carried out mail and telephone surveys that explore public beliefs about the leading causes of fatal unintentional injury in the United States, and how such deaths should be prevented.

She directed one of the first scientific attempts to measure Traffic Safety Culture on a national level. Such systematic approaches are critical to increasing social support for evidence-based road safety efforts.

In collaboration with USUHS graduate students, she has demonstrated that members of lower socioeconomic groups are less likely to drive motor vehicles with optimal safety features, and that child safety seat instructions are written at too high of a reading level for large segments of the United States' parent population.

Dr. Girasek designed an intervention to persuade parents with pools to install isolation fencing that could reduce their children's risk of drowning by more than 80%. In this randomized-control evaluation study, mothers who were exposed to the treatment video were more likely to erect the recommended type of fence, and significantly more likely to take infant/child CPR training.

Dr. Girasek performed the inaugural study of airline passengers' use of alcohol, as well as their use of seatbelts in flight.

In a small, qualitative study, Dr. Girasek asked parents who had lost children to unintentional injury how they felt about contributing to prevention campaigns, and what advice they would offer injury control professionals who wanted to partner with surviving family members.


  • PMO 531 Program Planning and Development

Areas of Expertise

  • Social & Behavioral Aspects of Unintentional Injury Control
  • Needs Assessment
  • Survey Development
  • Focus Group Facilitation
  • Program Development & Evaluation

Selected Recent Publications

Girasek DC, Taylor B. An Exploratory Study of the Relationship Between Socioeconomic Status and Motor Vehicle Safety Features. Traffic Injury Prevention 11(2):151-155, 2010.

Canham-Chervak, M; Hooper, TI; Brennan, FH; Craig, SC; Girasek, DC; Schaefer, FA; Barbour, G; Yew, KS; Jones, BH. A Systematic Process to Prioritize Prevention Activities: Sustaining Progress Toward the Reduction of Military Injuries. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 38(1, Supplement):S11-18, 2010.

McKibben JBA, Ekselius L, Girasek DC, Gould NF, Holzer III C, Rosenberg M, Dissanaike S, Gielen, AC. Epidemiology of burn injuries II: Psychiatric and behavioural perspectives. International Review of Psychiatry, 21(6): 1-10, 2009.

Girasek DC, Olsen CH. Airline Passengers' Alcohol Use and Its Safety Implications. Journal of Travel Medicine 16(5):311-316, 2009.

Girasek DC, Olsen CH. Usual seatbelt practices reported by airline passengers surveyed in gate areas of a U.S. airport. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine 78:1050-1054, 2007.

Girasek DC. Would society pay more attention to injuries if the injury control community paid more attention to risk communication science? Injury Prevention 12:71-73, 2006.

Girasek DC. Advice From Bereaved Parents: on Forming Partnerships for Injury Prevention. Health Promotion Practice 6(2):207-213, 2005.

Austin-Lane J, Girasek D, Barbour G. A qualitative study of influences on state tobacco control funding. Health Promotion Practice 5 (3_suppl):46S-56S, 2004.

Girasek DC. Parents who have lost children to injuries discuss taking part in prevention campaigns: An Exploratory Study. Death Studies 27:1-8, 2003.

Girasek DC, Gielen AC. The effectiveness of injury prevention strategies: what does the public believe? Health Education & Behavior 30 (3):287-304, 2003.

Newman SB, Girasek DC. Using qualitative methods to design an epidemiologic study of sexually transmitted diseases in female prisoners. Sexually Transmitted Diseases 30(6):531-2, 2003.

Wegner MV, Girasek DC. How readable are child safety seat instructions? Pediatrics 111(3):588-591, 2003.

Girasek DC, Gielen AC, Smith GS. Alcohol's contribution to fatal injuries: a report on public perceptions. Annals of Emergency Medicine 39:622-630, 2002. (Focus of an accompanying editorial.)

Girasek DC. Public beliefs about the preventability of unintentional injury deaths. Accident Analysis & Prevention 33: 27-37, 2001.

Girasek DC. How members of the public interpret the word accident. Injury Prevention 5:19-25, 1999.

Book Chapters

Girasek DC. Behavioral Determinants. In Li G, Baker SP (Eds.). Injury Research: Theories, Methods, and Approaches. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA (anticipated publication 2011).

Girasek, D. Risk Communication. In Gielen AC, Sleet D, DeClemente RJ (Eds.). Handbook of Injury Prevention: Behavior Change Theories, Methods, and Applications. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA, 2006.

McDonald E, Girasek D, Gielen AC. Home Injuries. In Liller KD (Eds.). Injury Prevention for Children and Adolescents: Research, Practice and Advocacy. American Public Health Association: Washington, DC, 2006.

Gielen AC, Girasek DC. Integrating perspectives on the prevention of unintentional injuries. In Schneiderman N, Gentry J, DaSilva JM, Speers M, and Tomes H (Eds.). Integrating Behavioral and Social Sciences with Public Health. American Psychological Association: Washington, DC, 2001.