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Katrina R. Ellis

Assistant Professor of Social Work

Katrina R. Ellis

Katrina R. Ellis is an assistant professor at the School of Social Work. Her research interests include family health interventions, cancer survivorship, racial and ethnic disparities in health, and family management of chronic health conditions. An overarching goal of her research is to support the health of families facing multiple, coexisting illnesses, with a specific focus on African Americans. Dr. Ellis employs a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies in her work with families, clinicians and community groups. Her published research includes examinations of the influence of co-occurring illnesses on the psychosocial and behavioral health and well-being of cancer survivors and their family caregivers using quantitative dyadic data analysis techniques. She has also published research investigating psychosocial factors that influence the health behaviors and well-being of African Americans. Dr. Ellis' future program of research includes the design and implementation of interventions to support the quality of life and healthy lifestyle and coping behaviors of cancer survivors, caregivers and family members.

She completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Cancer Health Disparities Training Program (Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health), the Center for Health Equity Research (Department of Social Medicine, School of Medicine) and Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During her time as a postdoctoral fellow, she worked with community-based participatory research projects in Greensboro and Rocky Mount, North Carolina focused on reducing the disproportionate burden of cancer morbidity and mortality and cardiovascular disease risk among African Americans and on digital health projects to support the wellbeing of peer supporters and families after a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Ellis is also a former Peace Corps Volunteer, having served as a Health Promotion Officer with the Ministry of Health in Fiji.

Research Interests/Focus

African American family health interventions; cancer prevention and survivorship; self and family management of multiple chronic conditions; racial and ethnic disparities in health; digital health; community-based participatory research


Year Degree   School
2015 PhD Public Health - Health Behavior & Health Education University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
2008 MSW Interpersonal Practice/Health University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
2008 MPH HBHE University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
2002 BA Secondary Education/Art Dillard University, New Orleans, LA

Ellis K. R., Hecht H. K., Young, T. L., Oh, S., Thomas, S., Hoggard, L., Ali, Z., Olawale, R., Carthron, D., Corbie-Smith, G., & Eng, E. (2020). Chronic disease among African American families: A systematic scoping review. Preventing Chronic Disease, 17.

Ellis, K. R., Hecht, H., Young, T., Oh, S., Thomas, S., Hoggard, L., Ali, Z., Olawale, R., Carthron, D., Eng, E. & Corbie-Smith, G. (2020). Chronic disease in African American families: a systematic scoping review. Preventing Chronic Disease, 17(e167), 1-15.

Black, K., Eng, E., Schaal, J., Johnson, L., Nichols, H., Ellis, K. R., & Rowley, D. (2020). "The other side of through: Young breast cancer survivors’ spectrum of sexual and reproductive health needs from diagnosis to survivorship. Qualitative Health Research, 30(13), 2019-2032.

Ellis, K. R., Black, K., Davis, K., Baker, S., Schaal, J., Cothern, C., Guerrab, F., Goettsch, F., Lightfoot, A., Padilla, N., Samuel, C., Yongue, C., & Eng, E. (2020). Racial differences in the influence of healthcare system factors on informal support for cancer care among Black and White breast and lung cancer survivors. Family and Community Health, 43(3), 200-212.

Samuel, C. A., Mbah, O., Schaal, J., Eng, E., Black, K., Baker, S., Ellis, K., Guerrab, F., Jordan, L., Lightfoot, A., Robertson, L., Yongue, C., & Cykert, S. (2020). The role of patient-physician relationship on health related quality of life and pain in cancer patients. Supportive Care in Cancer, 28, 2615-2626.

Kowitt, S., Ellis, K. R., Carlisle, V., Bhushan, N., Black, K., Cranley, N., Eng, G., Martin, M., McGuirt, J., Sokol, R., Tang, P., Vines, A., Walker, J., & Fisher, E. (2019). Peer support opportunities across the cancer care continuum: A systematic scoping review of recent peer-reviewed literature. Supportive Care in Cancer, 27(1), 97-108.

Ellis, K. R., Young, T., Carthron, C., Simms, M., McFarlin, S., Davis, K., Dave, G, Corbie-Smith, G, & Cene’, C. (2019). Perceptions of rural African American adults about the role of family in understanding and addressing risk factors for cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Health Promotion, 33(5), 708-717.

Hoggard, L., Volpe, V., Thomas, A., Wallace, E., & Ellis, K. R. (2019). The role of emotional eating in the links between racial discrimination and physical and mental health. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 42(6), 1091-1103.

Black, K. Z., Baker, S., Robertson, L. B., Lightfoot, A., Alexander-Bratcher, K., Befus, D., Cothern, C., Dixon, C., Ellis, K. R., Guerrab, F., Hayes-Greene, D., Love, B., Schaal, J., Simon, B., Smith, B., Thatcher, K., Wiley, T., Wilson, S. M., Yongue, C., & Eng, E. (2019). Health Care: Antiracism organizing for culture and institutional change in cancer care. In C. L. Ford, D. M. Griffith, M. A. Bruce, & K. Gilbert (Eds.), Racism: Science & Tools for the Public Health Professional.

Samuel, C. A., Lightfoot, A. F., Schaal, J., Yongue, C., Black, K., Ellis, K. R., Robertson, L., Smith, B., Jones, N., Foley, K., Kollie, J., Mayhand, A., Morse, C., Eng, E., & Guerrab, F. (2018). Establishing new community-based participatory research partnerships using the community-based participatory research charrette model: Lessons from the Cancer Health Accountability for Managing Pain and Symptoms study. Progress in Community Health Partnerships, 12(1), 89-99.

Katapodi, M. C., Ellis, K. R., Schmidt, F., Nikolaidis, C., & Northouse, L. (2018). Predictors and interdependence of family support in a random sample of long‐term young breast cancer survivors and their biological relatives. Cancer Medicine.

Corbie-Smith, G., Wiley-Cene, C., Bess, K., Young, T., Dave, G., Ellis, K. R., Hoover, S. M., Feng-Chang, L., Wynn, M., McFarlin, S., & Ede, J. (2018). Heart Matters: A study protocol for a community based randomized trial aimed at reducing cardiovascular risk in a rural, African American community. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 938.

Carthron, D., Phillips, A., Cuthbertson, C., Ellis, K. R., Altpeter, M., Callahan, L., Bahorski, S., & Rini, C. (2018). Four methods of recruiting couples into a longitudinal study of physical activity in people with osteoarthritis: Recruitment, retention, and lessons learned. Frontiers in Public Health, 6, 197.

Samuel, C. A., Schaal, J., Robertson, L., Kollie, J., Baker, S., Black, K., Mbah, O., Dixon, C., Ellis, K. R., Eng, E., Guerrab, F., Jones, N., Kotey, A., Morse, C., Taylor, J., Whitt, V., & Cykert, S. (2018). Racial differences in symptom management experiences during breast cancer treatment. Supportive Care in Cancer, 26(5), 1425-1435.

Titler, M. G., Visovatti, M., Shuman, C., Ellis, K. R., Dockham, B., Yakusheva, O., & Northouse, L. (2017). Effectiveness of implementing a dyadic psychoeducational intervention for cancer patients and family caregivers. Supportive Care in Cancer, 25(11), 3395-3406.

Ellis, K. R., Janevic, M. R., Kershaw, T., Caldwell, C. H., Janz, N. K., & Northouse, L. (2017). Engagement in health-promoting behaviors and patient-caregiver interdependence in advanced cancer: An exploratory study. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 40(3), 506-519.

Ellis, K. R., Janevic, M. R., Kershaw, T., Caldwell, C. H., Janz, N. K., & Northouse, L. (2017). The influence of dyadic symptom distress on threat appraisals and self-efficacy in advanced cancer and caregiving. Supportive Care in Cancer, 25(1), 185-194.

Ellis, K. R., Janevic, M. R., Kershaw, T., Caldwell, C. H., Janz, N. K., & Northouse, L. (2016). Meaning-based coping, chronic conditions and quality of life in advanced cancer & caregiving. Psycho-Oncology.

Song, L., Rini, C., Ellis, K. R., & Northouse, L. (2016). Appraisals, dyadic communication, and quality of life over time among couples coping with prostate cancer. Supportive Cancer Care, 24(9), 3757-3765.

Kershaw, T., Ellis, K. R., Yoon, H., Schafenacker, A., Katapodi, M., & Northouse, L. (2015). The interdependence of advanced cancer patients’ and their family caregivers’ mental health, physical health, and self-efficacy over time. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 49(6), 901-911.

Lambert, S., Yoon, H., Ellis, K. R., & Northouse, L. (2015). Measuring appraisal during advanced cancer: Psychometric testing of the appraisal of caregiving scale. Patient Education and Counseling, 98(5), 633-639.

Ellis, K. R., Griffith, D. M., Allen, J. O., Thorpe, R. J., & Bruce, M. A. (2015). “If you do nothing about stress, the next thing you know, you’re shattered”: Perspectives on stress, coping and health among African American men. Social Science and Medicine, 139, 107-114.

Ellis, K. R., Caldwell, C. H., Assari, S., & De Loney, E. H. (2014). Nonresident African-American fathers' influence on sons' exercise intentions in the Fathers and Sons Program. American Journal of Health Promotion, 29(2), 89-98.

Janevic, M. R., Ellis, K. R., Sanders, G. M., Nelson, B. W., & Clark, N. M. (2013). Self-management of multiple chronic conditions among African American women with asthma: A qualitative study. Journal of Asthma, 51(3), 243-252.

Griffith, D. M., Ellis, K. R., & Allen, J. O. (2013). An intersectional approach to social determinants of stress for African American men: Men's and women's perspectives. American Journal of Men’s Health, 7(Suppl. 4), 19S-30S.

Griffith, D. M., Ellis, K. R. & Allen, J. O. (2012). How does health information influence African American men’s health behavior? American Journal of Men’s Health, 6(2), 156-163.

Griffith, D. M., Johnson, J., Ellis, K. R. & Schulz, A. J. (2010). Cultural context and a critical approach to eliminating health disparities. Ethnicity and Disease, 20(1), 71-76.

Griffith, D. M., Schulz, A. J., Johnson, J. & Herbert/Ellis, K. R. (2009). Implications of racism for Black Americans' diabetes management and outcomes. In L. Jack (Ed.), Diabetes in Black America: Public Health and Clinical Solutions to a National Crisis. Munster, IN: Hilton Publishing.

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