Public Release: 

Hartford Program issues geriatric social work awards, forms VA partnership

The Gerontological Society of America

The prestigious Hartford Faculty Scholars Program has granted 11 geriatric social work researchers a two-year award that will provide career development, mentorship, and support for projects that will improve healthy outcomes for the country's aging population. A new dimension to the awards this year is a partnership with the Veterans Health Administration (VA).

Four of the current awardees are PhD-level social workers from the VA who will be focusing on applied research on older veterans and their caregivers. Over the two-year period of the award, the VA will support the scholar to work on their proposed research study.

The program is funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation and administered by The Gerontological Society of America as a component of the nationwide Geriatric Social Work Initiative, which seeks to expand the training of social workers in order to improve the health and well being of older people and their families. A total of 117 scholars to date have received awards.

"After participating in this program, our hope for our Hartford scholars is that they become exemplars of successful leadership in gerontological social work and applied research, and that they serve as inspirations, guides, and mentors for other social workers interested in similar career trajectories," said National Program Director Barbara Berkman, DSW, PhD.

The 2011 scholars are examining such topics as therapies for post traumatic stress disorder in aging Vietnam War veterans, resident-to-resident aggression in nursing homes, patterns of service use for older adults with mental health disorders, care transition experiences of veterans, and non-drug based approaches for pain management.

The Hartford Faculty Scholars Program provides individualized mentorship from top-tier national researchers who offer comprehensive feedback and guidance, and covers travel expenses and registration fees for several gerontology and social work conferences and professional development institutes. Listed below are the new scholars and their primary research topics:

Robin Bonifas, Hartford Faculty Scholar
Arizona State University
Research Topic: Resident-to-Resident Aggression in Skilled Nursing Facilities

Lori Daniels, Hartford/VA Scholar
Portland Vet Center (Readjustment Counseling Service)
Research Topic: Aging Among Vietnam War Veterans: A Pilot Study of Reminiscence, Life-Review, and PTSD

Bryan Ford, Hartford/VA Scholar
Birmingham VA Medical Center
Research Topic: Examining the Care Transition Experiences of Veterans and their Caregivers: A Preliminary Qualitative and Quantitative Study at the Birmingham VA Medical Center

Joseph Hunter, Hartford/VA Scholar
Albany Stratton Veterans Administration Hospital
Research Topic: Building on Strengths and Interests to reinforce Meaning and Purpose in Life Experiences (SIMPLE) for Older Adults at Risk for Suicide

Edna Naito-Chan, Hartford/VA Scholar
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System-West Los Angeles Healthcare Center
Research Topic: Vocational Rehabilitation and Older Adults: Does Work Therapy Work?

Juyoung Park, Hartford Faculty Scholar
Florida Atlantic University
Research Topic: Utilization of Nonpharmacological Pain Management in Ethnically Diverse Older Adults in South Florida

Nicole Ruggiano, Hartford Faculty Scholar
Florida International University
Research Topic: I Did it My Way: Decision Making of Older Adults in Consumer Directed Long-Term Care

Paul Sacco, Hartford Faculty Scholar
University of Maryland, Baltimore Research Topic: Older Adult Drinking Patterns: Exploring Social and Motivational Influences

Lori Thomas, Hartford Faculty Scholar
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Research Topic: Aging with No Place: An Examination of Services for Older Adults Experiencing Homelessness

Karla Washington, Hartford Faculty Scholar
University of Louisville
Research Topic: Examining Relationships among Patient Symptom Burden, Coping Strategies, and Caregiver Psychological Distress at End-of-Life

Amanda Woodward, Hartford Faculty Scholar
Michigan State University
Research Topic: Understanding Patterns of Service Use for Older Adults with Mental and Substance Disorders

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The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society -- and its 5,400+ members -- is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA's structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

The John A. Hartford Foundation, founded in 1929, is a committed champion of training, research, and service system innovations that promote the health and independence of America's older adults. Through its grantmaking, the Foundation seeks to strengthen the nation's capacity to provide effective, affordable care to this rapidly increasing older population by educating health professionals and developing innovations that improve and better integrate health and supportive services.

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