Susan Sorenson

Susan B. Sorenson, PhD

  • Professor of Social Policy and of Health & Societies

  • Senior Fellow in Public Health

  • Director, PhD Program

  • Director, The Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence

3815 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6179
Email: sorenson at
  • office: 215.573.1169

Link to Scholarly Papers

Professor Susan B. Sorenson has a unique interdisciplinary background in epidemiology, sociology, and psychology. She moved to Penn in 2006 after more than 20 years at the UCLA School of Public Health. Since 1986, she has taught a graduate course in family and sexual violence – the first violence prevention course in a school of public health in the nation. She currently teaches three courses that she developed: Foundations of Public Health, Guns & Health, and Non-stranger Violence.

With more than 100 publications to her credit, Professor Sorenson has published widely in the epidemiology and prevention of violence, including the areas of homicide, suicide, sexual assault, child abuse, battering, and firearms. A primary focus of her work is the social context in which violence occurs, specifically, the norms that shape whether and how violence is tolerated.

In addition to her academic work, Dr. Sorenson has served on the board of directors and advisory boards of local community-based organizations, state government agencies, and university injury prevention centers. In 1991, she co-founded the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, a broad coalition of agencies and individuals which continues to this day. She has provided invited testimony on violence prevention at the local, state, and federal levels.

Professor Sorenson was a member of the National Academy of Science’s Panel on Research on Violence Against Women, a consultant to President Clinton’s National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women, a consultant to UNICEF’s May 2000 report on Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls, a member of the advisory panel for the 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Youth Violence, and the author of a 2008 WHO report on health indicators of violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. Most recently, she was a member of the 2013 Institute of Medicine committee Priorities for a Public Health Research Agenda to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-related Violence.


Sorenson SB, Joshi M, Sivitz E. A systematic review of the epidemiology of nonfatal strangulation, a human rights and health concern. American Journal of Public Health, ahead of print September 11, 2014: e1-38. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302191. Available at:

Sorenson SB, Shi R, Zhang J, Xue J. Self-presentation on the web: Agencies serving abused and assaulted women. American Journal of Public Health, 2014; 104: 702–707.

Thomas KA, Joshi M, Sorenson SB. “Do you know what it feels like to drown?”: Strangulation as coercive control in intimate relationships. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2014; 38, 124-137.

Sorenson SB, Joshi M, Sivitz E. Knowing a sexual assault victim or perpetrator: A stratified random sample of undergraduates at one university. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2014; 29:394-416.

Sorenson SB, Webster D. Policies to reduce gun violence. In Gun Violence Prediction, Prevention, and Policy. American Psychological Association, 2013; 27-32.

Joshi M, Thomas K, Sorenson SB. Addressing domestic violence among the international community in U.S. higher education institutions: An exploratory study of University International Offices. Journal of College Student Development, 2013; 54:527-533.

Lukens J, Solomon P, Sorenson SB. Shared decision making for clients with mental illness: a randomized factorial survey. Research on Social Work Practice, 2013; 23:694-705.

Sorenson SB. Violence Against Women in Philadelphia: A Report to the City. October 2012.

Joshi M, Thomas K, Sorenson SB. “I didn’t know I could turn colors”: Health problems and health care experiences reported by women who were strangled by an intimate partner. Social Work in Health Care, 2012; 51:798-814.

Mertens B, Sorenson SB. As we age: Current considerations about the elderly and firearms. American Journal of Public Health, 2012; 102:396-400.

Sorenson SB. Gender disparities in injury mortality: Consistent, persistent, and larger than you’d think. American Journal of Public Health, 2011; 101:S353-S358.

Sorenson SB, Morssink C, Abril Campos P. Safe access to safe water in low income countries: Water fetching in current times. Social Science & Medicine, 2011; 72:1522-1526.