Distinguished University Professor in the Depts. of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences and Pediatrics at McMaster University
Psychiatrist, Pediatrician and Associate Member in the Dept. of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact at McMaster University
Holder of the Chedoke Health Chair in Child Psychiatry

Dr. Harriet MacMillan’s research focuses on the epidemiology of violence against children and women; she has led randomized controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of approaches to preventing child maltreatment and intimate partner violence. Funding for this work has been provided by organizations such as the WT Grant Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Harriet works closely with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO). 

From 1993 until 2004, Harriet was the founding Director of the Child Advocacy and Assessment Program (CAAP) at McMaster Children’s Hospital, a multidisciplinary program committed to reducing the burden of suffering associated with family violence. She continues to see patients as an active staff member of CAAP and provides consultations to child protection agencies. Harriet was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada in 2016. 

Current Activities

Some Active Research Projects:

The VEGA (Violence, Evidence, Guidance, and Action) Project: The VEGA (Violence, Evidence, Guidance, and Action) Project has created pan-Canadian, evidence-based guidance and education resources to assist healthcare and social service providers in recognizing and responding safely to family violence. VEGA developed these resources with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada in collaboration with 22 national organizations. VEGA focuses on two main types of family violence: intimate partner violence and child maltreatment including children’s exposure to intimate partner violence. VEGA has developed an online platform of education resources comprised of learning modules (e.g., care pathways, scripts, how-to videos), interactive educational scenarios and a Handbook. These will equip healthcare and social service providers (including students) in addressing the needs of those who may have experienced family violence. These resources are based on a series of systematic reviews summarizing the scientific evidence.

A Public Health Approach to Family Violence Surveillance Project: This project supports the advancement of projects and activities of the Family Violence Epidemiology Section at PHAC, including surveillance of child maltreatment and related outcomes, data collection measures and safety protocols, and analysis of national survey data on child maltreatment.


Five Most Impactful Publications:

Jack, S. M., Boyle, M., McKee, C., Ford-Gilboe, M., Wathen, C. N., Scribano, P., Davidov, D., McNaughton, D., O’Brien, R., Johnston, C., Gasbarro, M., Tanaka, M., Kimber, M., Coben, J., Olds, D. L., & MacMillan, H. L. (2019). Effect of Addition of an Intimate Partner Violence Intervention to a Nurse Home Visitation Program on Maternal Quality of Life: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA321(16), 1576–1585. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.3211

MacMillan, H. L., Wathen, C. N., Jamieson, E., Boyle, M. H., Shannon, H. S., Ford-Gilboe, M., Worster, A., Lent, B., Coben, J. H., Campbell, J. C., McNutt, L. A., & McMaster Violence Against Women Research Group (2009). Screening for intimate partner violence in health care settings: a randomized trial. JAMA302(5), 493–501. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2009.1089

MacMillan, H. L., Georgiades, K., Duku, E. K., Shea, A., Steiner, M., Niec, A., Tanaka, M., Gensey, S., Spree, S., Vella, E., Walsh, C. A., De Bellis, M. D., Van der Meulen, J., Boyle, M. H., & Schmidt, L. A. (2009). Cortisol response to stress in female youths exposed to childhood maltreatment: results of the youth mood project. Biological psychiatry66(1), 62–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.12.014

MacMillan, H. L., Thomas, B. H., Jamieson, E., Walsh, C. A., Boyle, M. H., Shannon, H. S., & Gafni, A. (2005). Effectiveness of home visitation by public-health nurses in prevention of the recurrence of child physical abuse and neglect: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet (London, England)365(9473), 1786–1793. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(05)66388-X

MacMillan, H. L., Fleming, J. E., Streiner, D. L., Lin, E., Boyle, M. H., Jamieson, E., Duku, E. K., Walsh, C. A., Wong, M. Y., & Beardslee, W. R. (2001). Childhood abuse and lifetime psychopathology in a community sample. The American journal of psychiatry158(11), 1878–1883. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.158.11.1878

Harriet MacMillan

Contact Harriet

Research Interests

prevention of family violence, epidemiology of child maltreatment, intimate partner violence

Education, Memberships, Certifications

M.Sc. McMaster University, M.D. Queen’s University, Residency training in Pediatrics at SickKids; Royal College Certification in Pediatrics, Residency training in Psychiatry at SickKids (Child), McMaster University (Adult); Royal College Certification in Psychiatry, Postgrad fellowship training at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Additional Information


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