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C-FAHR Research Foci

The research of C-FAHR members has a common goal of identifying the ways in which the family system can operate effectively as a vehicle for promoting health and for managing chronic illnesses across time and across developmental life stages. Currently, consortium members are conducting research related to five broad research topics, and are coming together around these topics to develop innovative and interdisciplinary training that has the potential to transform the role of the family in health policy and health care encounters.


Early-Life Familial Contexts & Health

Families Managing Chronic Conditions

Family History and Shared Risk/Resilience


Statistical Methods to Study Families & Health

(dynamical systems, epigenetics, longitudinal change)

Application of Family-Centered Approaches to Health Care Practice & Policy


 Current News & Research

September 22, 2022

MPIs Cindy Berg (University of Utah-Psychology), Lindsay Mayberry (Vanderbilt University), and Deb Wiebe (UC Merced) and co-Is Jennifer Raymond (Children’s Hospital of L.A.), Jon Butner (Psychology), and Michelle Litchman (College of Nursing) received an R01 grant from NIDDK.  The project evaluates the efficacy of a telehealth-based intervention to optimize the support young adults receive from family, friends, and co-workers as they regulate their diabetes during the high-risk time of young adulthood.

Alex Terrill (PI), Jennifer Majersik (co-I), Beth Cardell (co-I), Brian Baucom (co-I), and Maija Reblin (co-I) received an R01 from NICHD/NCMRR. The project evaluates the efficacy of a novel remotely-delivered dyadic intervention to promote Resilience in Stroke survivor-carepartner Dyads (ReStoreD). 

Rebecca Utz and Debra Scammon received a grant from the Grantmakers in Aging and Community Catalyst to create a community advisory board of family caregivers.  This group represents family caregivers of all ages, all relationships and caring for a number of different conditions, ranging from mental health, rehabilitation, disability, chronic health and aging, and dementia.  They are being trained as citizen advocates to support policy, programming, and public awareness to support the needs and importance of family caregivers in our state.

January 14, 2021

C-FAHR MEMBERS and other collaborators publish article on the experience of live discharge from hospice care

Margaret F. Clayton, Kara Dassel, Eli Iacob, Gail L. Towsley, Jacqueline Eaton, Hollie J. Fuhrmann, Michael Caserta
Rebecca Utz, Katherine Supiano

"To examine live hospice discharge prevalence and experiences of families and hospice staff. Hospice eligibility is based on a cancer model where decline and death are predicable. Decline is less predictable for diagnoses such as dementia, frequently resulting in involuntary live hospice discharge."



August 2, 2019

C-FAHR Members Help Create Dementia-Focused, End-of-Life planning guide.
Development of a Dementia-Focused End-of-Life Planning Tool: The LEAD Guide (Life-Planning in
Early Alzheimer's and Dementia)

University of Utah Researchers Kara Dassel, Ph.D., and Eli Iacob, Ph.D. collaborated with C-FAHR Members Rebecca Utz, Ph.D.,
Katherine Supiano, Ph.D., LCSW,FT, and Sara Bybee, LCSW for a study in a special issue of "The Gerontological Society of America". 

"To address the unique characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD)that complicate end-of-life (EOL), we created, refined, and validated a dementia-focused EOL planning instrument for use by healthy adults, those with early-stage dementia, family caregivers, and clinicians to document EOL care preferences and values within the current or future context of cognitive impairment."

read more


March 21, 2019

Congratulations to Bruce Ellis - Distinguished Contributions to Interdisciplinary Understanding of Child Development Award

Bruce Ellis, Psychology, is the recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to Interdisciplinary Understanding of Child Development award from the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD).   Bruce has made major contributions to our understanding of how psychosocial processes influence child development that transcend disciplinary boundaries and this prestigious award highlights his theoretical and empirical work in the area. 

"For introducing models and theories—Adaptive Calibration Model, Life History and Biological Sensitivity Context Theory—as conceptual framework to guide studies of child development; ...Read More"



February 15, 2019

Newly Published Research: "Family Health History Tools as Communication Resources: Perspectives from Caucasian, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander Families"

Kim Kaphingst, Communications Department and Huntsman Cancer Institute and other collaborators from across campus have recently been published in The Journal of Family Communication. "This study investigated Family Health History (FHH) tools as resources for FHH communication within Caucasian, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander families."

C-FAHR Pilot Funds supported the pilot data that was instrumental for the receipt of this grant.

view abstract


Feb. 21, 2019 – Five Year R01 Grant Receipt

Congratulations to Drs. Liz Conradt and Sheila Crowell (MPIs) on their receipt of their 5 year R01 grant titled “Emotion dysregulation across generations: Identifying early developmental and clinical indicators of risk.” This is truly a multidisciplinary grant with Drs. Uma Dorn (Department of Education) and Marcela Smid (OB/GYN), as well as Jonathan Butner and Lee Raby, as co-investigators. 
C-FAHR Pilot Funds supported the pilot data that was instrumental for the receipt of this grant.

Project Narrative: Emotion dysregulation underlies almost all psychological disorders yet little is known about how it emerges very early in development. We will study prenatal origins of emotion dysregulation, and how it develops in both mother and child over the first years of life. This information will provide valuable clinical data about how to prevent transmission of risk for emotion dysregulation across generations.

 Two recent papers have been published from this team recently in Development and Psychopathology.

"An epigenetic pathway approach to investigating associations between prenatal exposure to maternal mood disorder and newborn neurobehavior"

"Incorporating Epigentic Mechanisms to Advance Fetal Programming Theories"

Fall 2018 - Supporting Patients and Their Families for Better Rehabilitation Outcomes

Injury and illness not only affect the patient, but the family as well. This is particularly true for chronic, disabling conditions like stroke, where there may be lasting physical, cognitive, and emotional changes that can affect everything from participating in valued activities to forming and maintaining relationships. Informal family caregivers are vital in supporting patients following discharge home and can significantly affect long-term patient outcomes. Yet training and support for family caregivers is lacking, often leaving them feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. To optimize rehabilitation, recovery, and community reintegration, our research focuses on patients and their family caregivers as targets for intervention. More specifically, we are using novel dyadic (couples-based) approaches to harness existing strengths in family relationships while also supporting the unique needs of patients and family caregivers.

Alexandra Terrill (Department of Occupational & Recreational Therapies)

Fall 2018 - U of U Faculty Obtain Funding to Develop and Test a Web-Based Virtual Coaching Application for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Caregivers to the 5.7 million persons in the United States with Alzheimer’s Disease are susceptible to adverse physical and mental health outcomes, given the often prolonged and challenging care and support they provide to patients in their homes and community.  Respite (defined as “time away from caregiving”) is the most often requested service by caregivers; however, prior research has suggested its intended benefits are only best achieved when family caregivers spend that time away doing what they most desire and need to do – as opposed to using the time in a way they don’t find helpful in alleviating the stress associated with caregiving. This is often best achieved by planning ahead – something many caregivers have a difficult time doing, given the daily demands of their role.

The National Institute on Aging recently awarded a 5-year grant to Drs. Rebecca Utz (Sociology Department), Michael Caserta (Gerontology Interdisciplinary Program), and Alexandra Terrill (Department of Occupational & Recreational Therapies) to design and test a web-based “virtual coach” to help Alzheimer’s caregivers make effective use of respite time employing guided planning and goal-setting strategies. This type of online-delivered intervention is inherently scalable to real world practice and is expected to help caregivers maintain their overall well-being over time, so they can continue providing the estimated 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care with an annual economic value of $232 billion.

This project will use a community-engaged design and evaluation process involving campus-wide collaborations among faculty from the Colleges of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Nursing, and Health, the Collaboration & Engagement Team within the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, the Genetic Science Learning Center, and Utah Telehealth, as well as community partners consisting of the Utah Coalition of Caregiver Support, Community Faces of Utah, the Utah Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center

Last Updated: 9/22/22