During the past 15 years, I have conducted research to investigate how family members fare in the face of two common transitions/challenges: the need to provide care for an elder family member and the aftermath of parental divorce. I have chosen these areas of study not only because they present conceptually and theoretically complex questions, but also because they hold great meaning for contemporary families.
My research contributions to the field of family studies and human development would not have been possible without the help of the many excellent graduate and undergraduate research assistants I have had over my 20+ years at the University of Arizona. Indeed, perhaps the most rewarding part of my job as a UA professor is working closely with students, in a mentoring role, as they develop the skills to become confident, independent research scientists.
- Caregiving for elder family members in Hispanic/Latino and non-Hispanic White families
- Emotional and physical stress reactivity in caregivers
- Aging and the family
- Post-divorce parent-adolescent relationships
Daily diary and quantitative/qualitative mixed-methods
My current research focuses on the well-being of adults caring for elder family members, with a specific interest in emotional and physical stress reactivity assessed via daily diary data. I'm interested not only in whether caregivers experience changes in their emotional and physical health in response to the daily emergence and subsidence of care-related stressors, but also in whether and how socio-contextual factors (e.g., social support, extrinsic stressors) and personal characteristics (e.g., gender, personality) buffer or exacerbate the intensity of caregiver reactivity.
With newly collected data from a sample of Hispanic/Latino caregivers, I will be able to determine how feelings of familism, acculturation and religiosity/spirituality play into the experience of stress reactivity among this fast-growing population.
To ensure that I capture the experiences of family members in a comprehensive way, I have incorporated both quantitative and qualitative data in nearly all of my research endeavors.
Principal Investigator, Daily Understanding of Caregiving Study (DUCS). Supported with funds from the Agricultural Experiment Station, The University of Arizona.
Principal Investigator, Hispanic Caregiver Study (DUCS-Hispanic). Supported with funds from the Fitch Nesbitt Endowment and the Frances McClelland Institute on Children, Youth & Families.
Issues in aging (undergraduate)
Application of human development, interpersonal and family theory (graduate)
Research methods in family studies and human development II (graduate
Please contact Dr. Koerner if you are unable to locate one of the publications listed below:
Koerner, S. S., Shirai, Y., & Pedroza, R. (in press). Role of religious/spiritual beliefs and practices among Latino family caregivers of Mexican descent. Journal of Latina/o Psychology.
Marshall, C. A., Badger, T. A., Curran, M. A., Koerner, S. S., Larkey, L. K., Weihs, K. L., Verdugo, L., & García, F. (2013). Un Abrazo Para la Familia: Providing low-income Hispanics with education and skills in coping with cancer and caregiving. Psycho-Oncology, 22, 470–474.
Koerner, S. S., & Shirai, Y. (2012). The negative impact of global perceptions of and daily care-related family conflict on Hispanic caregivers: Familism as a potential moderator. Aging and Mental Health, 16, 486-499.
Koerner, S. S., Kenyon, D. B., & Shirai, Y. (2010). Socio-contextual circumstances in daily stress reactivity among caregivers for elder relatives. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 65B,561-572.
Shirai, Y., Koerner, S. S., & Kenyon, D. B. (2009). Reaping caregiver feelings of gain: The roles of social support and mastery. Aging and Mental Health, 13, 106-117.
Koerner, S. S., Kenyon, D. B., & Shirai, Y. (2009). Caregiving for elder relatives: Which caregivers experience personal benefits/gains? Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 48, 238-245.
Koerner, S. S., & Kenyon, D. B. (2007). Understanding “good days” and “bad days:” Emotional and physical reactivity among caregivers for elder relatives. Family Relations, 56, 1-11.
Koerner, S. S., Wallace, S. R., Lehman, S. J., Lee, S., & Escalante, K. A. (2004). Sensitive mother-to-adolescent disclosures after divorce: Is the experience of sons different from that of daughters? Journal of Family Psychology, 18, 1-12.
Koerner, S. S., Jacobs, S., & Raymond, M. (2000). When mothers turn to their adolescent daughters: Predicting daughters' vulnerability to negative adjustment outcomes. Family Relations, 49, 301-309.