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Research Roundup: December 2023

Happy Holidays! The December roundup includes eight publications and four presentations.

Research Associate Professor Tonya Van Deinse led a team of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers that presented its findings to the Governor’s Crime Commission regarding a statewide needs assessment for victims of crime.


Associate Professor Lisa de Saxe Zerden published her first editorial, “The Paradoxical Truths of Social Work Practice and Perspectives” in her new role as editor-in-chief of Social Work, the official journal of the National Association of Social Workers.

Associate Professor Hsun-Ta Hsu, Samantha Brown (Colorado State University), Anamika Barman-Adhikari (University of Denver), Kevin Garcia (Colorado State University), Stephanie Chassman (University of Denver), Robin Petering (University of Southern California), Diane Santa Maria (UTHealth Houston), Sarah Narendorf (University of Houston), Jama Shelton (Hunter College), Kimberly Bender (University of Denver) and Kristin Ferguson (Arizona State University) co-authored “Substance Use Typologies among Young People Experiencing Homelessness in Seven Cities Across the United States: A Latent Class Analysis” for Addictive Behaviors. Health risk factors, including substance use and trauma, often co-occur with young individuals experiencing homelessness. The authors looked to identify the subgroups of youth experiencing homelessness based on “polysubstance use” and the correlations to health-risk factors. After recruiting 1,426 individuals aged 18-26 from seven cities and obtaining their results, the authors concluded their findings provided important implications for prevention and treatment of substance use among youth experiencing homelessness and stated that “Screening protocols should consider co-occurring risk factors such as traumatic experiences, sexual risk behaviors, and mental health history as indicators of polysubstance use.” 

Research Assistant Professor Todd Jensen, Professor Paul Lanier and Donte Bernard (University of Missouri) co-authored “Conceptualizing adverse childhood experiences as a latent factor: Tests of measurement invariance across five racial and ethnic groups” for Child Development. The authors assessed the “measurement invariance of a latent-factor” adverse childhood experience model across five groups and found full metric invariance across the groups, although they found that several adverse childhood experience thresholds were different across groups. Their findings emphasized the possibility of a latent factor approach and highlight the “need to assess differences across racial and ethnic groups in terms of the optimal conceptualization and measurement of ACEs.”

Associate Professor Rainier Masa, Graham Zulu, Mathias Zimba (Rising Fountains Development Program), Gilbert Zimba (Rising Fountains Development Program), Joseph Zulu (University of Zambia) and Don Operario (Emory University) co-authored “The Association of Emotional Support, HIV Stigma, and Home Environment With Disclosure Efficacy and Perceived Disclosure Outcomes in Young People Living With HIV in Zambia: A Cross-Sectional Study” for the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (JANAC). The authors examined the association of HIV stigma, social support and attitudes toward living at home with the negative disclosure outcomes and HIV self-disclosure efficacy, sampling 120 young people with HIV aged 18-21 who received care in Eastern Province, Zambia. The authors found that the confidence young people with HIV had in their ability to self-disclose their HIV status and their assessment of negative outcomes was influenced by their home environment, facing HIV stigma and emotional support.

Director of the Jordan Institute for Families Sarah Verbiest, Briony Hill (Monash University), Alexandra Azzari Wynn-Jones (Independent Researcher), Kimberley Botting (University College London), Emma Cassinelli (Queen’s University Belfast), Michael Daly (University of Bristol), Caitlin Victoria Gardiner (King’s College London), Stephanie Hanley (University of Birmingham), Nicola Heslehurst (Newcastle University), Regine Steegers-Theunissen (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Helen Skouteris (Monash University) co-authored “The Challenge of Weight Stigma for Women in the Preconception Period: Workshop Recommendations for Action from the 5th European Conference on Preconception Health and Care” for International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The authors aimed to report ways to reduce weight stigma for preconception women at a workshop for academic and clinical experts at the fifth European Conference on Preconception Health and Care. The authors recommended urgent approaches to combat weight-stigmatizing attitudes in society among the general population and preconception women while listing professional development options for healthcare professionals in reference to weight stigma. The authors stated eliminating weight stigma could have positive effects for mothers and their children both during pregnancy and after.

Research Associate Professor Tonya Van Deinse, Melissa Zielinski (University of Arkansas at Little Rock), Stephanie Brooks Holliday (RAND Corporation), Brittany Rudd (University of Illinois Chicago) and Erika Crable (University of California San Diego) co-authored “The application of implementation science methods in correctional health intervention research: a systematic review” for Implementation Science Communications. In order to improve health equity, the authors stated the need to advance health care in correctional settings. The authors reviewed the way that implementation science was used in criminal-legal settings with the goal of helping to improve the quality of health care. The authors found that implementation efforts needed to be tailored based on inter-agency and organizational contexts, and stated that future studies should examine how policy factors influenced the design and success of implementation science and examine a wide range of outcomes involving implementation science.

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) recently announced the publication of the six-part Child and Family-Serving Systems: Compendium of Policy & Practice, co-edited by Dean Ramona Denby-Brinson. The compendium is designed for educators in social work and allied fields and child- and family-serving professionals such as health care practitioners, mental health care practitioners, legal personnel, state and local child welfare staff, and others as an exploration of practice approaches, program implementation, policy analysis, and evaluation and research components of child welfare.

Managed by Senior Research Associate Amanda Klein-Cox and Research Associate Angela Tobin, the compendium was a years-long effort that highlights the work of many current and former members of the SSW community, including Clinical Assistant Professor Amy Levine, Director of Implementation Practice Allison Metz, Professor Paul Lanier, Daniel Gibbs ’23 (Ph.D.), Melissa Jenkins ’23 (Ph.D.), former professor Mark Testa and Klein-Cox.

View each volume’s Table of Contents here or visit the CWLA Bookstore to learn more.

Director of the Jordan Institute for Families Sarah Verbiest, Lindsey Yates (UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health), Eilish Neely and Chemyeeka Tumblin (Nashville Metro Health Department) co-authored “Looking Back, Visioning Forward: Preconception Health in the US 2005 to 2023” for Maternal and Child Health Journal. The authors examined the way that preconception health had evolved in the United States since 2005 and outlined a vision of preconception health that emerged, one created by a diversity of voices calling for wellness, equity and reproductive justice as a foundation for all preconception health work.


Director of the Jordan Institute for Families Sarah Verbiest gave a presentation focusing on women’s wellness and equity on Dec. 5 to the Secretary’s Advisory Council on Infant and Maternal Mortality.

Research Associate Professor Tonya Van Deinse, Associate Professor Cynthia Fraga Rizo, Julia Metz (UNC Project Coordinator), Adrianna Carter (UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health), Lauren Ericksen (UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health), Christine Murray (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) and Alicia Bunger (Ohio State University) presented “Are they all just bridging factors? distinguishing between epis constructs within the context of co-located cross sectoral services for interpersonal violence” at the Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health.

Research Associate Professor Tonya Van Deinse led a team of UNC researchers that presented its findings to the Governor’s Crime Commission regarding a statewide needs assessment for victims of crime. The assessment will drive the state’s response for addressing the gaps and limitations in meeting the needs of underserved populations, including prioritization of funding for services.

Clinical Associate Professor Tauchiana Williams served as a panelist for the North Carolina Institute of Medicine Annual Meeting on Nov. 14, 2023, in Raleigh. During the session, she provided ideas and insights on addressing the mental health workforce crisis, including challenges to education, retention and distribution of mental health care professionals. In addition, Williams spoke about areas of opportunity for building a strong mental health workforce. 

Awards, News & Recognition

Director of the Jordan Institute for Families Sarah Verbiest is part of an interdisciplinary collaborative that received a $4 million cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help improve postpartum care.