Research Overview

Much of my research examines the relationship between social networks and chronic illness management, particularly in the contexts of aging, disability, and mental health. My dissertation focused on the link between social interaction and neurocognitive disorders. Among the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease, over half live in the community alongside caregivers whose unpaid assistance constitutes their primary form of care. In a series of projects, I study the caregiver support networks of new patients coping with the onset of Alzheimer's disease. I examine how social inequalities affect the availability of caregiver support, how support evolves during the course of care, and whether or not support moderates changes in cognitive function. This research contributes to community-based care initiatives through identifying how, when, and why caregivers are effective intervention partners for medical professionals. I presented a portion of my work in this area at the 2018 Duke Social Networks and Health Workshop - the video of that presentation is available on YouTube.

Other lines of my research focus on the medical profession and health care delivery. In particular, I have published work on inter-professional relationships within medicine including the evolving role of Advanced Practice Nurses in health care. Other studies have examined how contextual factors influence physicians' behaviors, including their prescription of controlled substances like opioids and psychotropics.