Debra Umberson, Ph.D. is Professor of Sociology, Director of the Population Research Center, and Co-Director of the Aging and Longevity Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on social factors that influence population health with a particular emphasis on aging and life course change, marital and family ties, and gender and racial variation in health disparities. Her recent research, supported by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator in Health Policy Research Award and the National Institute on Aging, examines how marital relationships affect health-related behavior and health care, and how those processes vary across gay, lesbian, and heterosexual unions.
Umberson is the past editor of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior and current Chair of the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association. She is an elected Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, the 2015 recipient of the Matilda White Riley Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Sociological Association's Section on Aging and the Life Course and the 2016 recipient of the Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociological Study of Mental Health from the American Sociological Association's Section on Mental Health. In her newest research, she focuses on black/white differences in exposure to the death of family members across the life course and the implications for long-term health and mortality disparities.
Umberson participates in the Population Research Center's Primary Research Areas and lab meetings for (1) Population Health and (2) Demography: Family and Intergenerational Relationships.
- How Spouses Influence Each Other’s Health Habits in Same-Sex Compared to Different-Sex Marriages (PRC Research Brief Series, August 2018)
- Black Deaths Matter: A Conceptual Framework for Understanding Racial Disparities in Relationship Loss and Health (PRC Research Brief Series, February 2018)
- Perceptions of Shared Power, Gender Conformity, and Marital Quality in Same- and Different-Sex Marriages (PRC Research Brief Series, 12/18/17)
- Book: Death of a Parent: Transition to a New Adult Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2003)
- (forthcoming) “Childhood Adversity, Daily Stress, and Marital Strain in Same-Sex and Different-Sex Marriages.” Journal of Family Issues. NIHMSID 923644
- (forthcoming). “Gender Conformity, Perceptions of Shared Power, and Marital Quality in Same- and Different-Sex Marriages.” Gender and Society. NIHMSID 923643
- (forthcoming). “What We Know (And Don’t Know) About the Bereavement Experiences of Same-Sex Spouses.” To appear in Abbie E. Goldberg and Adam Romero (Editors), LGBTQ Divorce and Relationship Dissolution: Psychological and Legal Perspectives and Implications for Practice.
- (forthcoming). "Health and Health Behavior Concordance between Spouses in Same-Sex and Different-Sex Marriages.” Social Currents. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329496517734570
- Black Deaths Matter: Race, Relationship Loss, and Effects on Survivors (Journal of Health and Social Behavior 58(4):405-420. 2017)
- Planning for Future Care and the End of Life: A Qualitative Analysis of Gay, Lesbian, and Heterosexual Couples (Journal of Health and Social Behavior 58(4):473-487. NIHMSID 923642. 2017)
- Death of Family Members as an Overlooked Source of Racial Disadvantage in the United States (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 114(5): 915-920. PMC5293066. 2017)
- Family Relationships and Well-Being (Innovations in Aging 1(3):1-11. 2017)
- Binge Drinking and Depression: The Influence of Romantic Partners in Young Adulthood (Society and Mental Health 7(1): 36-49. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156869316674056 NIHMSID. 2017)
- Instrumental- and Emotion-Focused Care Work During Physical Health Events: Comparing Gay, Lesbian, and Heterosexual Marriages (The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 72(3):498-509. 2017. DOI 10.1093/geronb/gbw133)
- Physical Illness in Gay, Lesbian, and Heterosexual Marriages: Gendered Dyadic Experiences (Journal of Health and Social Behavior 57(4):517-531. 2016. PMCID: PMC5123905)
- Greedy Spouse, Needy Parent: The Marital Dynamics of Gay, Lesbian, and Heterosexual Caregivers (Journal of Marriage and Family 78:957-974. 2016. PMCID: PMC5034933)
- Gendered Alcohol Trajectories across the Marital Biography (Journal of Health and Social Behavior 57:77-96. 2016. PMCID: PMC4785832)
- Childhood Adversity and Men’s Relationships in Adulthood: Life Course Processes and Racial Disadvantage (The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. 71(5): 902-913. 2016. PMID 26589348)
- Sexual Intimacy among Mid to Later Life Couples.” Pp. 115-134 in Couple Relationships in the Middle and Later Years, edited by J. Bookwala (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 2016)
- Gender, Stress in Childhood and Adulthood, and Trajectories of Change in Body Mass (Social Science & Medicine139: 61-69. 2015. PMC4519422)
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