VCU School of Social Work Research Vision

Building socially just communities by working together to increase knowledge that shapes innovative solutions.

Making connections

Virginia Commonwealth University’s position as a top 50 public research university means faculty are supported in their scholarship, whether they are working individually or with other faculty members. The VCU School of Social Work offers a mentorship program that encourages researchers to have a mentor within the school, elsewhere in the university and at the national level.

Research collaborations at VCU cut across departments and schools throughout the university and include partners around the world. Many of our research projects, which receive funding from federal, state, local and foundation sources, involve community-based and community-engaged activities with individuals and organizations across Richmond, the U.S. and the world.

By teaming with a wide range of collaborators and field sites, our faculty members find that they begin to think in different ways and gain new perspectives on their work.

Building the base of knowledge

The VCU School of Social Work faculty tackles research that concerns a wide range of ages and populations, studying and working with young mothers and their children, adolescents and adults. Research topics cover a broad spectrum that includes child well-being, mental health/substance abuse, neurobiology, services and treatments, and international populations.

Whether they are creating new knowledge, evaluating practice or researching policy, our faculty members ask critical questions to address the most important social issues of our time. It’s how we continue to shape the future of our field.

Faculty areas of expertise

Mental health

  • Kia Bentley, Ph.D.
  • Jacqueline Corcoran, Ph.D.
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Farmer, Ph.D.
  • Miriam George, Ph.D.
  • Sarah Kye Price, Ph.D.

Child well-being

  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Farmer, Ph.D.
  • Youngmi Kim, Ph.D.
  • Shelby E. McDonald, Ph.D.
  • Sarah Kye Price, Ph.D.
  • Sunny Shin, Ph.D.
  • M. Alex Wagaman, Ph.D.
  • Traci Wike, Ph.D.

Substance abuse

  • Karen Chartier, Ph.D.
  • Sunny Shin, Ph.D.

Vulnerable populations

  • Matthew Bogenschutz, Ph.D.
  • Denise Burnette, Ph.D.
  • Elizabeth Cramer, Ph.D.
  • Youngmi Kim, Ph.D.
  • Shelby E. McDonald, Ph.D.
  • M. Alex Wagaman, Ph.D.

International and refugee issues

  • Matthew Bogenschutz, Ph.D.
  • Denise Burnette, Ph.D.
  • Miriam George, Ph.D.
  • Hyojin Im, Ph.D.
  • Youngmi Kim, Ph.D.

For questions about VCU School of Social Work’s research, please contact Elizabeth “Betsy” Farmer, Ph.D., associate dean for research and professor, at or Leanne Marshall, research administrator, at

2016 Faculty publications

Agnelli, K., Cramer, E.P., Buffington, M.L., Norris, J., & Meeken, L. (2016). Food Landscapes: Cooking, community service and art-making with teens. Journal of Community Practice,24(2), 205-214. 

Ama, N.O., Shaibu, S. & Burnette, D. (2016). Healthcare providers’ attitude towards older adults with HIV and AIDS in Botswana. Journal of AIDS and HIV Research.8(10), pp. 136-149, DOI: 10.5897/JAHR2016.0389 

Ama, N.O., Burnette, D. & Shaibu, S. (2016). HIV-related knowledge and practices: A cross-sectional study of adults aged 50 years and over in Botswana. South African Family Practice.58:3, 100-107, DOI: 10.1080/20786190.2016.1167310 

Becerra, D., Wagaman, M.A., Androff, D., Messing, J.T., & Castillo, J.  (online, 2016).  Policing immigrants: Fear of deportation and perceptions of law enforcement and criminal justice. Journal of Social Work. DOI 10.1177/1468017316651995

Bentley, K.J. & Casey, R.C. (in press). Incarcerated women’s experiences and beliefs about psychotropic medication: An empirical study.  Psychiatric Services.

Bentley, K.J., Cohen-Filipic, K., & Cummings, C.R. (2016). Approaching parental guilt, shame, and blame in a helping relationship: Multiple methods for teaching and learning.  Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 36(5).

Birkenmaier, J., Huang, J., &Kim, Y. (2016). Food Insecurity and Financial Access during an Economic Recession: Evidence from the 2008 SIPP. Journal of Poverty, 20(2), 194-213.

Bledsoe, S. E., Rizo, C., Wike, T. L., Killian-Farrell, C., Wessel, J., & Bellows, A. O. (2017, online first). Pregnant adolescents’ perceptions of depression and psychiatric services in the United States. Women and Birth.

Bogenschutz, M.,Im, H.,& Liang, A. (2016). Ecological model of a good life for people with disabilities in Vietnam. Global Social Welfare, 3(4), 243-254.

Burnes, D., Lachs, M. Burnette, D. & Pillemer, K. (2017). Varying appraisals of elder mistreatment among victims: Findings from a population-based study Journal of Gerontology B: Psychological Sciences, Social Sciences doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbx005 (epub ahead of print)

Burnette, D. (2016). Evidence, expertise and ethics: The making of an influential in American social work. Research on Social Work Practice (invited oral history E. Gambrill) doi:10.1177/1049731516652944

Burnette, D. & Spencer-Suarez, K. (2016). Mixed-methods research. Oxford Bibliographies in Social Work. New York: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195389678-0234

Burnette, D., Duca, V. & Dhembo, E. (2016) Psychological distress, social support, and quality of life among cancer caregivers in Albania: A moderated mediation analysis of social support and gender. Psycho-Oncology.  DOI: 10.1002/pon.4081  

Butzer, B., LoRusso, A., Shin, S.H., & Khalsa, S.S. (In press). Evaluation of Yoga for preventing adolescent substance use risk factors in a middle school setting: A preliminary group-randomized controlled trial. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Charles, J.L.K. & Bentley, K.J. (2016).  Stigma as an organizing framework for understanding the early history of community mental health and psychiatric social work.  Social Work in Mental Health, 14(2), 149-173.  

Chartier, K., Karriker-Jaffe, K., Cummings, C.*, & Kendler, K. (in press). Environmental Influences: Informing Gene-environment Research in Diverse U.S. Populations. The American Journal on Addictions.

Chartier, K. G., Thomas, N. S.*, & Kendler, K. S. (2016-epub). Interrelationship between Family History and Generational Status in the Prediction of Alcohol Dependence in U.S. Hispanics. Psychological Medicine. doi:

Chartier, K. G., Dick, D. M., Almasy, L., Chan, G., Aliev, F., Schuckit, M. A., Scott, D. M., Kramer, J., Bucholz, K. K., Bierut, L. J., Nurnberger, J., Porjesz, B., & Hesselbrock, V. M. (2016). Interactions between Alcohol Metabolism Genes and Religious Involvement in Association with Maximum Drinks and Alcohol Dependence Symptoms. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77(3), 393-404. (PMC4869897)

Chartier, K. G., Caetano, R., Miller, K., & Harris, T. R. (2016). A 10-year Study of Factors Associated with Alcohol Treatment Use and Non-use in U.S. Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 160, 205-211. (PMC4886862)

Choi, Y. J., & Cramer, E. P. (2016).  An exploratory study of female Korean American church leaders’ views on domestic violence.  Social Work & Christianity, 43(4), 3-22.

Collins, E., Cody, A., McDonald, S. E., Nicotera, N., Ascione, F. R., & Williams, J. H. (2017). A template analysis of intimate partner violence survivors’ experiences of animal maltreatment: Implications for safety planning and intervention. Violence Against Women. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1077801217697266

Corcoran, J. (2016). Living with Mental Disorder: Insights from Qualitative Research. Essex, England: Routledge.

Corcoran. J. (2016). Teenage Pregnancy and Mental Health. Societies, 6, 21; doi:10.3390/soc6030021

Corcoran, J., Schildt, B., Hochbrueckner, R. et al. Child Adolesc Soc Work J (2016). doi:10.1007/s10560-016-0465-1

Corcoran, J., & Walsh, J. (2016 DSM 5 update., 2012 2nd ed., 2009). Mental Health in Social Work: A Casebook on Diagnosis and Strengths-Based Assessment.  Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Corcoran, J., & Walsh, J. (2016). Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis in Social Work Practice,(3rd ed.). New York: Oxford.

Corcoran, J., & Walsh, J. (2016, 3rd ed., 2010 2nd ed., 2006). Clinical assessment and diagnosis in social work practice. New York: Oxford University Press. `

Corona, R., Rodríguez, V. M., McDonald, S.E., Velazquez, E., Rodríguez, A., & Fuentes, V.E. (2017). Associations between cultural stressors, cultural values, and Latina/o college students’ mental health. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(1), 63-77. doi: 10.1007/s10964-016- 0600-5

Cramer, E.P. (in press).  Social justice video presentation.  [Assignment].  In L. Hitchcock, M. Sage, & N.J. Smyth.Teaching social work with digital technology.  Alexandria, VA: CSWE Press.

Cramer, E. P., Choi, Y. J., & Ross, A. I. (in press). Race, culture & abuse of persons with disabilities. In A. Johnson, R. Nelson, & E. Lund (Eds.). Religion, disability, and gender violence. New York, NY: Springer Publishing.

Dixon, M. E. & Chartier, K. G. (2016). Alcohol Use Patterns Among Urban and Rural Residents: Demographic and Social Influences. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, 38(1), 69-77. (PMC4872615)

Duppong Hurley, K., Lambert, M.C., Gross, T.J., Thompson, R.W., & Farmer, E.M.Z. (2017). The role of therapeutic alliance and fidelity in predicting youth outcomes during therapeutic residential care. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 25, 37-45.

Farmer, E.M.Z., Wagner, H.R., Burns, B.J., & Murray, M. (2016). Who goes where? Exploring factors related to placement among group homes. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 54-63.

Farmer, E.M.Z. & Lipold, M.A. (2016). The need to do it all: Exploring the ways in which treatment foster parents enact their complex role. Children and Youth Services Review, 64, 91-99.

Farmer, E.M.Z., Murray, M., Ballentine, K., & Burns, B.J. (2017). Would we know it if we saw it? Assessing quality of care in group homes for youth.  Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 25, 28-36.

Farmer, E.M.Z., Seifert, H.P., Wagner, H.R., Murray, M., & Burns, B.J. (in press). Does model matter? Examining change across time for youth in group homes. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.

Grady, M., Wike, T. L., Putzu, C., Field, S., Hill, J., Bledsoe, S. E., Bellamy, J., & Massey, M. (in press). Recent social work practitioners’ understanding and use of evidence-based practice and empirically supported treatments. Journal of Social Work Education.

Huang, J., Kim, Y., Sherraden, M., & Clancy, M. (2016). Unmarried Mothers and Children’s Social-Emotional Development: The Role of Child Development Accounts. Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Huang, J., Kim, Y., & Sherraden, M. (2016). Material hardship and children’s social-emotional development: Testing mitigating effects of Child Development Accounts in a randomized experiment. Child: Care, Health & Development.

Huang, J., Kim, Y., Barnidge, E. (2016). Seasonal Difference in the Participation of the National School Lunch Program and its Impacts on Household Food Security. Health and Social Work.

Huang, J., Kim, Y., & Sherraden, M. (2016). Heterogeneous Effects of Child Development Accounts on Savings for Children’s Education. Journal of Policy Practice.

Huang, J., Kim, Y., & Birkenmaier, J. (2016). Unemployment and Household Food hardship in the Economic Recession. Public Health Nutrition, 19 (3), 511-519.

Hutchison, E., & Cramer, E. (2017). Small groups, formal organizations, and communities. In E.  Hutchison (Ed.), Essentials of human behavior: Integrating person, environment, and the life course (2nd ed.). (pp. 225-260).  Los Angeles: Sage. 

Im, H., Caudill, C. N., Ferguson, A. B. (2016). Lived experiences of displaced refugee youth at risk: narratives of gang-involved Somali Youth in Kenya. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 25(7), 753-771.

Im, H., & Rosenberg, R. (2016). Building Social Capital Through a Peer-Led Community Health Workshop: A Pilot with the Bhutanese Refugee Community. Journal of community health, 41(3), 509-517.

Kanhadilok, S., McCain, N.L., McGrath, J.M., Jallo, N., Price, S.K., & Chiaranai, C. (2016). Factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding through four weeks postpartum in Thai adolescent mothers.  Journal of Perinatal Education, 25(3), 150-161.

Kim, Y., Huang, J., Sherraden, M, & Clancy, M. (Accepted). Child Development Accounts and saving for college: Mediated by parental educational expectations? Social Science Quarterly.

Kim, Y., Park, A, & Huang, J. (Accepted). Does food insecurity increase depressive symptoms in South Korea? Asian Social Work and Policy Review.

Lopez-Cepero, J., Fabelo, H. E., Rodriguez-Franco, L., & Rodriguez-Diaz, F. J. (2016). Dating Violence Questionnaire: Validation of the Cuestinonario de Violencia de Novios (CUVINO) using a college sample from the U.S. Violence and Victims, 31(3), 438-456.

Martinez, P., Cummings, C., Karriker-Jaffe, K. J., & Chartier, K. G. (in press). Learning from Latino Voices: Focus Groups’ Insights on Participation in Genetic Research. The American Journal on Addictions.

McDonald, S. E. (2016). Mauvais traitements (Ed.). Révolutions animals: Comment les animaux sont devenus intelligents. Paris, France:Les Liens qui Libèrent.

McDonald, S.E., Shin, S. H., Corona, R., Maternick, A., Graham-Bermann, S. Ascione, F.R., & Williams, J.H. (2016). Children exposed to intimate partner violence: identifying differential effects of family environment on children’s trauma and psychopathology symptoms through regression mixture models. Child Abuse & Neglect. 58: 1-11.

McDonald, S. E.,Corona, R., Maternick, A., Ascione, F., Williams, J. H., & Graham-Bermann, S.  (2016).  Children's exposure to intimate partner violence and their social, school, and activities competence: Latent profiles and correlates. Journal of Family Violence, 31(7), 1-16. doi: 10.1007/s10896-016-9846-7   

McDonald, S. E.,Graham-Bermann, S., Maternick, A., Ascione, F., & Williams, J. H. (2016).  Patterns of adjustment among children exposed to intimate partner violence: A person-centered approach. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 9(2), 137-152. doi: 10.1007/s40653-016-0079-y

McDonald, S. E., Collins, E., Maternick, A., Nicotera, N., Graham-Bermann, S., Ascione, F. R., & Williams, J. H. (2017). Intimate partner violence survivors’ reports of their children’s exposure to companion animal maltreatment: A qualitative study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0886260516689775

Netting, F.E., O’Connor, M.K., Cole, P. L., Hopkins, K., Jones, J.L., Kim, Y., Leisey, M., Mulroy, E., Rotabi, K.S., Thomas, M.L., Weil, M.O., & Wike, T. (2016). Reclaiming and reimagining macro social work education: A collective biography. Journal of Social Work Education, 52(2), 157-169.

Park, A., & Kim, Y. (2016). Investigating a Longitudinal Trajectory of Child Obesity and Its Association with Child Maltreatment in South Korea. Asian Social Work and Policy Review, 10, 237-247.

Price, S.K., Coles, D.C. & Wingold, T. (in press) Integrating behavioral health risk assessment into centralized intake for maternal and child health services.  Health and Social Work

Secret, M., Abel, M., Ward, C., Perkins, N. & Charles, J,. (2017). Research knowledge assessment: A study of MSW students’ acquisition and retention of research knowledge. Journal of Social Work Education. March 1 (online)

Secret, M., Bentley, K. J.,&  Kadolph, J. (2016). Student voices speak to quality assurance: Continual improvement in online social work education.  Journal of Social Work Education, 52(1),

Secret, M, Bryant, N. & Cummings, C. (in press). Teaching an interdisciplinary graduate level methods course in an openly-networked connected learning environment: A Glass half full. Journal of Educators Online.

Segal, E. A. & Wagaman, M. A.(in press). Social empathy as a framework for teaching social justice. Journal of Social Work Education.

Sharma, S., Burnette, D., Bhattacharya, A. & Nath S. (2016). Community participation in rural primary education: An underestimated and understudied component of India’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All) initiative,” Psychosociological Issues in Human Resource Management, 4(1): 96–114. 

Sherraden, M., Clancy, M., Nam, Y., Huang, J., Kim, Y., Beverly, S., Mason, L., Williams Shanks, T., Wikoff, N., Schreiner, M, & Purnell, J. (Accepted). Universal and Progressive Child Development Accounts: A Policy Innovation to Reduce Educational Disparity. Urban Education.

Shin, S. H., Chung, E., & Rosenberg, R. (2016). Identifying sensitive periods for alcohol use: The roles of timing and chronicity of child physical abuse. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 40 (5), 1020-1029.

Shin, S. H., Cook, A., Morris, N., McDougle, R., & Groves, L. P. (2016). The different faces of impulsivity as links between childhood maltreatment and young adult crime. Preventive Medicine, 88: 210-217. 

Stebbins, M.B. & Corcoran, J. (2016). Pediatric bipolar. Journal of Child and Adolescent Social Work.33: 115. doi:10.1007/s10560-015-0411-7.

Wagaman, M. A.(2016). Self-definition as resistance: Understanding identities among LGBTQ emerging adults. Journal of LGBT Youth, 13(3), 207-230. DOI 10.1080/19361653.2016.1185760 

Wagaman, M. A., Keller, M. F., Cavaliere, S. J. (2016). What does it mean to be a successful adult?: Exploring perceptions of the transition into adulthood among LGBTQ emerging adults in a community-based service context. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 28(2), 140-158.

Wagaman, M. A. (2016). Promoting empowerment among LGBTQ youth: A social justice youth development approach. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal. DOI 10.1007/s10560-016-0435-7. 

Walsh, J., Hochbrueckner, R., Corcoran, J., & Spence, R.  (2016). The lived experience of schizophrenia:  A systematic review and meta-synthesis. Social Work in Mental Health, 14(6), 607-624. 

Walsh, J. (2016). The utility of the DSM-5 Z-codes for clinical social work diagnosis. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 26(2), 149-153.

Zimmerman, E., Cook, S., Woolf, S., Price, S.K. & Haley, A. (in press)  A patient and provider research agenda on diabetes and hypertension management.  American Journal of Preventive Medicine