Research Fellows

Research Fellows

Casey Cole

Debra Wallace, DNP

Emily P. Moye, PhD

About: 
Emily Moye (Skuban), PhD became interested in human behavior and early childhood during her first class in psychology as a freshman at Yale College. She went on to work prior to graduate school with two psychologists whose were conducting an epidemiological study of social-emotional development in early childhood. She obtained her doctoral degree in Clinical and Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she worked on a longitudinal study of the development of antisocial behavior in high-risk, low-income children, as well as two other related longitudinal studies. For her Master’s thesis, she focused on understanding the relationship of parent-toddler synchrony on children’s emotion regulation and maternal nurturance in a sample of high-risk, low-income toddlers.  The results of her Master’s Thesis were published in Infant Behavior and Development.  During graduate school, she took a number of elective courses on Structural Equation Modeling, Advanced Regression, Trajectory Analysis, and Growth Curve Analysis, and still has a strong interest in methodological design.  Her dissertation focused on the bidirectional relationship between language delays and externalizing problems, and the moderating influence of emotion regulation and maternal nurturance on this relationship. 
 
As part of her clinical training, Dr. Moye worked in a Community Mental Health Center in Metro Atlanta, where she worked with the low-income, chronically mentally ill population of all ages. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Auburn University in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and later worked as an Assistant Research Professor as part of the Healthy Marriage Initiative.  In addition to being interested in the development of behavior problems in young children, she also developed interest in the benefits of healthy relationships on family structure and sexual risk-taking in adolescence.  She is currently working with colleagues on a project focused on the benefits of the Semantic Web in higher-education ELearning.  Dr. Armando Paladino in the Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research heads the project. 
 
As CHER fellow, Dr. Moye's "The Benefits of Access to Healthcare on Mental Health" will utilize a large-scale public health dataset to study the benefits of access to affordable healthcare on the mental health of American adults in national dataset.  Unlike most of the developed world, the United States does not currently have publically available health insurance for its citizens, and policymakers currently debating the best way to implement and fund health insurance.  There is a fairly large body of data that has shown that having access to health insurance is associated with improved physical health and decreased mortality (Hadley, 2003; McWilliams, 2009); however, relatively little research has focused on the benefits of having access to affordable healthcare options on the mental well-being and stress of American adults (Alang, McAlpine & Henning-Smith, 2014).  
 
Research has demonstrated that chronic health problems (Egede, 2007; Pinquart & Shen, 2011), pain (McWilliams, Cox & Enns, 2003), and financial strain (Zimmerman & Katon, 2005) are associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety in adults.  One preliminary study using retrospective data collection on individuals obtaining health insurance after the Affordable Care Act demonstrated that access to healthcare was associated with the perception of greater physical and mental well-being (Sommers, Gawande, & Baicker, 2017).  However, no data has clearly demonstrated if individuals with health insurance and the ability to access and afford medical care report greater psychological well-being and decreased stress when compared to uninsured individuals.
 
Dr. Moye's initial project will focus on using archived data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS; Mokdad, 2009), an ongoing community health collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state departments of health.  Using hierarchical linear regression analysis, she will examine how access to healthcare is associated with overall mental health and psychological well-being.  It is hypothesized that individuals who have health insurance, lack financial worry over healthcare and will report better mental health, lower levels of stress, and less functional impairment than those without health insurance.  
 
Dr. Moye anticipates at least one follow-up project that will look at differences across a cross-section of states following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Given the ability of states to selectively vary the level and type of healthcare coverage, a natural ex post facto study of the relationship between well-being and healthcare coverage over time across a selection of states seems a logical next step in this research agenda.
References
 
Alang, S. M., McAlpine, D. D., & Henning-Smith, C. E. (2014). Disability, health insurance, and psychological distress among US adults: An application of the stress process. Society and Mental Health, 4(3), 164-178.
 
Egede, L. E. (2007). Major depression in individuals with chronic medical disorders: prevalence, correlates and association with health resource utilization, lost productivity and functional disability. General Hospital Psychiatry, 29, 409-416.
 
Hadley, J. (2003). Sicker and poorer—The consequences of being uninsured: A review of the research on the relationship between health insurance, medical care use, health, work, and income. Medical Care Research and Review, 60, 3-75.
 
McWilliams, J. M. (2009). Health consequences of uninsurance among adults in the United States: Recent evidence and implications. The Milbank Quarterly, 87, 443–494. 
 
McWilliams, L. A., Cox, B. J., & Enns, M. W. (2003). Mood and anxiety disorders associated with chronic pain: An examination in a nationally representative sample. Pain, 106, 127-133.
 
Mokdad, A. (2009). The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System:  Past, present and future. Annual Review of Public Health, 30, 43-54.
 
Pinquart, M., & Shen, Y. (2001). Depressive symptoms in children and adolescents with chronic physical illness: An updated meta-analysis. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36, 375–384.
 
Sommers, B. D., Gawande, A. A., & Baicker, K. (2017). Health insurance coverage and health—what the recent evidence tells us. The New England Journal of Medicine, 377, 586-593.
 
Zimmerman, F. J., & Katon, W. (2005). Socioeconomic status, depression disparities, and financial strain: what lies behind the income‐depression relationship? Health economics, 14, 1197-1215.
 
 

Frances Dunniway, DNP

Lorna Kendrick, PhD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC

Louise Underdahl, PhD, MPA, MSLS

About: 
Dr. Louise Underdahl earned the BA (English Literature) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) followed by the MSLS, MPA, and PhD at the University of Southern California (USC).  She served UCLA from 1978 to 1992, UCLA Health Risk Management from 1992 to 2017, and University of Phoenix Online since 2004.  She is currently Lead Faculty Area Chair, University of Phoenix - School of Advanced Studies, Health Administration doctoral program; her research interests focus on work attitudes.
 
As CHER Fellow, Dr. Underdahl's "Reframing Physician Engagement: An Analysis of Physician Resilience, Grit, and Retention" will explore physician engagement and retention.  From 2011 to 2014, overall physician burnout rates in the United States increased by 10%, with specialty-specific burnout rates ranging from 37% to 61%. Physician turnover creates financial burdens for healthcare organizations, sabotages patient safety, disrupts continuity of patient care, and undermines institutional profitability. Grit has emerged as a more reliable and accurate predictor of retention than intelligence, physical aptitude, personality traits, or job tenure and represents a promising lens for identifying opportunities to strengthen physician engagement and retention and promote the culture of safety requisite to quality healthcare. Innovative institutional, departmental, and leadership initiatives promoting resilience, engagement, and Grit may effectively mitigate social, economic, and cultural factors contributing to physician burnout.   Physician staff of a healthcare system in the southwest United States will complete a short Grit survey; results will be analyzed in the context of attrition, burnout, and turnover patterns to identify factors that may contribute to engagement and retention.  Findings will be presented/published in a peer-reviewed venue; co-authors include Dr. Lunthita Duthely, a CEITR affiliate and UOPX alumna, and Terri Jones-Meineke, a CHER affiliate and current DHA doctoral student.   
 
Dr. Underdahl looks forward to expanding her intellectual horizons through collaboration on meaningful research. 
 
 

Margaret Avila, PhD, APRN

Susan A. Orshan, PhD, RN

About: 
Susan A. Orshan, PhD, RN earned her BSN from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA and her MA and PhD from New York University in New York City, NY.  Dr. Orshan’s private practice, “Healthy Matters LLC”, focuses on the health education needs of women and their families.  A sample of the offerings include stress management workshops, classes in Lamaze and Feldenkrais, and therapeutic touch sessions. 
 
Dr. Orshan has been on faculty at the University of Phoenix since 2001. She currently serves as a Lead Faculty-Area Chair for Nursing in the School of Advanced Studies as well as a University Research Methodologist.  Dr. Orshan’s research interests of cultural diversity and reproductive health reflects her background in women’s health/maternity nursing.
 
As a 2017-2018 CHER Fellow, Dr. Orshan hopes to use her study of “The Relationships among Spirituality, Power as Knowing Participation in Change, and Self Concept Clarity in Women Diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency” to gain additional insight into the experience of these women as they move forward with their lives.  Dr. Orshan is looking forward to working with her colleagues in CHER and throughout the University.  She is both honored and grateful for this wonderful opportunity.  

T. Ray Ruffin, DBA, MHA, MS, MA

About: 
Dr. T. Ray Ruffin strives for excellence in all endeavors. He valiantly served the nation for over two decades in the United States Navy where he amassed valuable leadership experience. Upon retirement, he transitioned to higher education where he uses his leadership skills to support students across all levels—undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate.  Dr. Ruffin’s educational background is unparalleled. His educational journey culminated in the acquisition of five distinct degrees---Bachelor of Business Administration from Northwood University; Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership,  Master of Science in Human Resources, and Master of Health Administration from Chapman University; and an earned Doctorate of Business Administration with an Information Systems concentration from Argosy University.  Dr. Ruffin also completed a Post Doctorate Certificate in Health Care Management and Leadership at Colorado Technical University.
 
Since 2015, Dr. Ruffin has proudly served the University of Phoenix community in the School of Advanced Studies as Dissertation Chair and Committee Member. Excelling in research with a strong national reputation, he has published numerous articles in refereed journals and has been invited to present research at several Tier One institutions. Dr. Ruffin is a former member of the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research and currently serves the Center for Health Engineering Research.   Dr. Ruffin is represented in both academia and the community at large. Two of his many philanthropic outlets includes sponsoring the Jack and Argavick Scarboro (grandparents) Memorial Scholarship and the Dr. T. Ray Ruffin Scholarship.
 
As CHER Fellow, Dr. Ruffin's "Qualitative Study on Augmenting Rural Health Care Access: The Patient Perspective" will explore patient perspectives to propose viable approaches to augment health care access in rural communities within Johnston County, North Carolina.  The goal is to serve CHER by optimizing research in the areas of healthcare design, delivery, and access for rural communities.