Ongoing projects

Social Work HEALS: Healthcare Education and Leadership Scholars (PI: Wharton): This NASW/CSWE 5-year grant (currently in year 4) funds 4 students per year in a mentored fellowship. Additionally, NASW awarded money that allowed us to produce two healthcare policy events in 2017, and again for two healthcare policy events in 2018-19. Students engage in interprofessional training in healthcare social work, consult with professional leaders and legislators in Tallahassee and Washington D.C., and engage with colleagues for mentored research and advocacy training.

The 2018-2019 UCF HEALS Scholars are: Felicia Bender (BSW student), Gilarys Garcia (BSW student), Kayla Meyer (MSW student), and Zyteldar Garzon (MSW student). Ms. Garcia and Ms. Bender are involved in additional research commitments with the PI and doctoral students in the college, in preparation for the policy events this year, and to submit to conferences. Ms. Meyer is involved in additional research commitments with the PI, examining focus group data from central Florida dementia caregivers in preparation for submission for presentation and publication.

Mental Health of Venezuelan Immigrants to Central Florida: Recommendations for Policy Action. (PI: Wharton with Dr. Andres Cubello Novello, Visiting Faculty): This project is a collaboration with Dr. Novello, from Javeriana University in Colombia, Christian King and Bernardo Ramirez from Health Management and Informatics, and Heather Peralta from Nursing. The project seeks to investigate the experience of immigrants to the area from Venezuela, their access to services and experiences during the transition, and their mental health needs.

This project also involves Medical student Matthew Abrams as Research Assistant, and several students located at Javeriana University in Bogota as Research Assistants.

Savvy Caregiver adaptations & Savvy Neighbors (PI: Wharton; Paulson, Co-PI): This collaboration with Daniel Paulson in Psychology, Kenneth Hepburn at Emory, and The Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center of Orlando seeks to make adaptations to the Savvy Caregiver intervention to better meet the needs of our community, and further seeks to expand our psycho-educational reach to older adult communities aging in place.

This project also involves graduate student Nicole Valdez and support from the OLDeR lab at UCF Psychology (

FL REACH (Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregiver Health) translational project (PI: Wharton; Paulson, Co-PI; Nick James, Project Coordinator): Funded by the Florida Department of Health Ed & Ethel Moore Alzheimer's Disease Research Grant program for 2019-2020. This collaboration with AdventHealth Orlando's memory disorder clinic (Dr. Rosemary Laird's team) and Dr. Daniel Paulson in Psychology is piloting novel mechanisms for bringing this evidence-based intervention to diverse families in central Florida.

Learning from Caregivers (PI: Wharton): This project explored the experiences and knowledge of caregivers for individuals with dementia who demonstrated aggressive or other high risk behaviors while living in the community. Targeted areas of information include whether patterns of behavior can be observed in early stages of disease, and whether caregivers perceive that available evidence-based interventions may have been helpful to them in retrospect.

Aggression in Dementia (PI: Wharton): This project involved data collected from electronic medical records at the University of Michigan Health System. The dataset was created during Dr. Wharton's postdoctoral fellowship at UM.

SBIRT (PI: S. Lawrence): Funded by SAMHSA. This project focused on training community partners for assessment and intervention in substance use in adults. Dr. Wharton was a Co-PI. [This project ended in 2017]

Inter-Professional Education and the Apopka Clinic : This partnership with the College of Medicine, College of Nursing, Department of Physical Therapy, and UF’s College of Pharmacy focuses on team based health care through experiential case-based learning. Dr. Wharton is a member of the steering team for this project and the lead for Behavioral Health, with SW Field Faculty member Iradly Roche and Counseling faculty member Dr. W. Bryce Haggedorn and doctoral student Niko Wilson. The Apopka “pop-up” clinic runs quarterly in partnership with the Farmworker’s Association, and provides interprofessional team care for uninsured and underinsured migrant farmworker community members in the underserved area of Apopka, FL. We see between 60-150 patients at each clinic. The Apopka Clinic team was awarded the inaugural Interprofessional Team Impact award from the IPEC and US Public Health Service in 2017, a grant from Florida Blue in 2018 (PI: Heather Peralta), and several student team awards from UCF.

This project is supported by a behavioral health student planning team.

Musical Minds (PI: D. Paulson): This partnership with the Central Florida Community Arts Association seeks to evaluate the Musical Minds choir for individuals with dementia and their care partners. Dr. Wharton is a Co-PI.

This project is supported by Univ of Michigan MSW and UCF BSW alum Barbara Mendez-Campos.

Equine-facilitated group work for treatment of trauma in veterans (PI: Wharton; Co-PI: J. Whitworth): This project is a partnership with the McCormick Research Institute/UCF College of Medicine.

Canine partnerships for Veterans (PI: J. Whitworth): This is a partnership with a colleague at St. Leo’s College that is examining data regarding canine programs. The aim is to establish evidence of efficacy. Dr. Wharton is a Co-PI.

Developing and pilot testing an EF-CPT intervention for treatment of combat-related trauma in veterans (PI: F. Scogin; Community Partner: Dr. Malone): This project is a partnership with Therapeutic Riding of Tuscaloosa in Tuscaloosa, AL, that focuses on an adaptation of the VA’s CPT protocol to integrate equine-facilitated face-to-face sessions. Dr. Wharton is a Co-PI.


OLDeR lab, Dept of Psychology, UCF & Dr. Daniel Paulson

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center of Orlando & Edith Gendron

Farmworker’s Association of Orlando

Dr. Rosemary Laird, Judy Clark, Gayle Shepherd, & the AdventHealth Memory Disorder Clinic Team, Orlando

Central Florida Community Arts Association

Heavenly Hooves & Horses for Heroes, Kissimmee, FL

Therapeutic Riding of Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa, AL

Horse Spirit for Soldiers, Hayward, WI

K9 Paws for Patriots

The Center, Orlando

Aging Research Institute of Alabama (ARIA), The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa

Women’s & Gender Studies, UCF

Amity Foundation, Nanjing, China

Selected Publications (**Graduate or Medical student/*Undergraduate)

Publications in the area of Geriatrics, Caregiving, and Healthcare:

Wharton, T., Paulson, D., **Burcher, K., & **Lesch, H. (In press) Delirium and anti-psychotic medications at hospital intake: Screening to decrease likelihood of aggression in inpatient settings among unknown patients with dementia. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Disorders.

**Lesch, H., **Burcher, K., Wharton, T., Chapple, R., & **Chapple, K. (In press). Barriers to healthcare services and supports for signing deaf older adults. Rehabilitation Psychology.

Beato, M., Dawson, N., Svein, L., & Wharton, T. (In press). Examining the effects of an Otago-based home exercise program on falls and fall risk in an assisted living facility. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy.

**Desai, A., Wharton, T., Struble, L., & Blazek, M. (2017) Person-centered primary care strategies for assessment and intervention for aggressive behaviors in dementia. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, Feb. NIMHSID: 853930

Wharton, T., Watkins, D., Mitchell, J., & Kales, H. (2017; online first). Expectations and attitudes towards formal mental health care for depression by African-American churchgoing older adults. Research on Aging.

Wharton, T., Paulson, D., **Macri, L., & Dubin, L. (2017; online first). Delirium and mental health history as predictors of aggression in individuals with dementia in inpatient settings. Aging and Mental Health. doi:10.1080/13607863.2016.1235680 PMID: 27676119; NIHMS853931

Wharton, T., & Zivin, K. (2016; online first). Relationships between caregiving, income, gender and health: A cross-sectional examination of a representative sample of older Americans. Journal of Social Service Research. NIHMSID: 823512

Watkins, D., Wharton, T., Mitchell, J., Matusko, N., & Kales, H. (2016) Perceptions and receptivity of non-spousal family support: A mixed methods study of support for psychological distress among older, church-going African American men. Journal of Mixed-Methods Research. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1177/1558689815622707; NIHMSID: 757898

Wharton, T., & Gammonley, D. (2015) Geriatric Conditions. In The Behavioral Health Specialist in Primary Care: Skills for Integrated Practice (Burg & Oyama, Eds). Springer Publications.

Wharton, T., & Ford, B. (2014). What is known about violent and aggressive behavior in dementia caregiving? Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 57(5), 460-477. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2014.882466; PMID: 24593178

*Cited by 21 news/media outlets, including CNN, Seattle Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Salon, USA Today, Stars & Stripes, USNews & World Report, Huffington Post, NBC News

Wharton, T., Manu, E., & Vitale, C. (2014). Enhancing provider knowledge & screening for palliative needs in home-based multimorbid patients. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 32(1), 78-84. doi: 10.1177/1049909113514475. PMID: 24280188.

Baldwin, J., Church, W., & Wharton, T. (2013). The familial union between caregivers and the juvenile justice system. Journal of Family Strengths. 13(1), 1-17. PMCID: PMC4029339

Zivin, K., Wharton, T., & Rostandt, O. (2013). The economic, public health, and caregiver burden of late-life depression. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 36: 631–649. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2013.08.008 NIHMSID: 573228

Wharton, T., & Alexander, N. (2013). Evaluating a moving target: Lessons learned from using Practical Participatory Evaluation (P-PE) in hospital settings. American Journal of Evaluation. 34(3): 402-412. doi: 10.1177/1098214013477728. PMID: 24860251

Wharton, T., Nnodim, J., Hogikyan, R., Mody, L., James, M., Montagnini, M. & Fries, B. (2013). Assessing health status differences between VA Home-Based Primary Care and state Medicaid waiver program patients. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 14(4):260-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2012.10.015. PMCID: PMC3716450

Wharton, T., Shah, A., Scogin, F., & Allen, R. (2013) Evidence to support the Pike’s Peak Model: The UA Geropsychology program. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 2(7), doi: 10.1037/a0032285. NIHMSID: NIHMS572308.

Burgio, L., Collins, I., Schmid, B., Wharton, T., McCallum, D., & DeCoster, J. (2009). Translating the REACH caregiver intervention for use by Area Agency on Aging personnel: The REACH-OUT program. The Gerontologist, (49)1, 103-116. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnp012. PMCID: PMC3695600

*Cited by Medscape; in two 2013 WHO policy reports on Dementia; a 2015 UK National Institute for Health & Care Excellence report; and in a 2016 National Academies Press policy report

Publications in the area of Workforce Development:

**Miller, A., Unruh, L., Liu, X., Wharton, T., & Zhang, N. (2018). Individual and organizational factors associated with professional quality of life in Florida EMS personnel. International Journal of Emergency Services. 7(2), 147-160. doi: 10.1108/IJES-08-2017-0041

**Miller, A., Unruh, L., Wharton, T., Liu, X., & Zhang, N. (2017). The relationship between perceived organizational support, perceived coworker support, debriefing and professional quality of life in Florida law enforcement officers. International Journal of Police Science and Management. doi: 10.1177/146135571771799

Shah, A., Wharton, T., & Scogin, F. (2018). Adapting an interprofessional training model for social work field placements: An answer for better mental health care outreach for older adults in primary care. Journal of Teaching in Social Work.

Wharton, T., & Burg, M.A. (2018). A mixed-method evaluation of social work learning outcomes in interprofessional training with medicine and pharmacy students. Journal of Social Work Education. doi: 10.1080/10437797.2017.1288592

**Miller, A., Unruh, L., Zhang, N., Liu, X., & Wharton, T. (2017) Professional quality of life of Florida emergency dispatchers. International Journal of Emergency Services. 6, 29-39. doi: 10.1108/IJES-01-2017-0001.

Wharton, T. (2016) Rigor, transparency, and reporting social research: Why guidelines don’t have to kill your story. Research on Social Work Practice. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1177/1049731515622264; NIHMSID: 757901

Wharton, T. & Bolland, K. (2012) Practitioner perspectives of evidence-based practice. Families in Society, 93(3), 157-164. doi: 10.1606/1044-3894.4220

Wharton, T. (2008). Compassion fatigue: Being an ethical social worker. The New Social Worker.

Wharton, T., Sercu, C., Malone, M., & Macauley, B. (2005). An analysis of equine stress levels after participation in therapy sessions. Scientific and Educational Journal of Therapeutic Riding.

Publications in the area of care access and chronic diseases among vulnerable or marginalized populations:

Whitworth, J., Scotland-Coogan, D., & Wharton,T. (In press). Outcomes of participation in a service dog training program for veterans with PTSD. Society & Animals.

Monroe, M., Whitworth, J., Wharton, T., Turner, J. (In press). Effects of an equine-assisted therapy program for military veterans self-reporting PTSD. Society & Animals.

Publications in the area of Social Justice:

Li, X., Taylor, J., Church, W., Thomas, S., & Wharton, T. (2012) Exploring the potential for racial and gender bias in violations of probation petitions. Journal of Forensic Social Work, 1(2), 124-131.

Wharton, T. & Church, W. (2009). Consideration of One Area of Persistent Poverty in the US. Social Development Issues, 18(1).

Church, W., Wharton, T., & Taylor, J.K. (2009). An examination of differential association and social control theory: Family systems and delinquency. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 7(1). doi: 10.1177/1541204008324910

Reprinted as part of a Text/Reader Anthology (2018): Church, W., Wharton, T., & Taylor, J.K. (2009). An examination of differential association and social control theory: Family systems and delinquency. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 7(1). doi: 10.1177/1541204008324910; In: Introduction to Criminology: A Text/Reader, Fourth Edition. Eds: Walsh, A., & Hemmens, C. Sage Publications.. ISBN: 9781506399249