Is violence a disease? Situating violence prevention in public health practice

Damien John Williams, Peter Duncan Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


The paper provides a review of some of the thoughts, ideas, and opinions that pervade the public health literature concerning how to classify or conceptualise violence. It is argued that violence transcends classic distinctions between communicable and non-communicable diseases, distinguishes itself from the discipline of injury control, and is influenced by wider, social determinants. Through a discussion of these varied perspectives it is concluded that a fourth revolution in public health is needed – a ‘change in scope’ revolution – that recognizes the influence of social justice, economics, and globalization in the aetiology of premature death and ill health, into which violence fits. However, rather than be shackled by debates of definition or classification, it is important that public health acknowledges the role it can play in preventing violence through policy and practice, and takes unified action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)960-967
JournalPublic Health
Issue number11
Early online date18 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • Violence
  • Prevention
  • Disease
  • Social determinants


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