Research in the Division of Pediatric Psychology is focused on achieving the best psychosocial and medical outcomes for children living with chronic health conditions and their families. We conduct clinical research on multidisciplinary teams with our colleagues in neurology, endocrinology, pulmonology, and oncology.
Faculty members and trainees share their expertise and research findings at local, national, and international professional meetings, including Vanderbilt Diabetes Day, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions, and the Society of Pediatric Psychology.
Please see below to learn more about our investigators and their research efforts.
Sara Francis, PhD
Dr. Francis is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in psychosocial interventions for youth with emotional and behavioral challenges, chronic health conditions, and neurodevelopmental differences. Her research includes quality improvement (QI) initiatives to improve access to mental healthcare for youth with chronic illnesses. Previous initiatives include assessing barriers to local mental health services for pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and surveying CF caregivers’ interest in mental health service expansions through the Pediatric CF Center at VUMC. Data help guide program development for youth and families served by the CF Center. Dr. Francis plans for similar QI assessment and program development across other medical specialty clinics at VUMC.
Sarah Jaser, PhD
Dr. Jaser studies risk and protective factors in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. She has demonstrated the effects of adolescent coping, maternal adjustment, and parenting on adolescents' glycemic control and quality of life. She is currently developing and testing interventions to improve outcomes in youth with diabetes and their families. These include a program to help mothers cope effectively with the stress of parenting adolescents with type 1 diabetes, a positive psychology intervention to improve adolescents adherence, and sleep-promoting programs for children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. In addition, she is interested in neurocognitive complications in pediatric type 1 diabetes.
Shari Neul, PhD
Dr. Neul is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in psychosocial intervention for youth with serious health conditions and their families. Her research is clinical intervention based with a focus on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and quality improvement regarding patient-centered care. In collaboration with clinical psychologist, Dr. Michelle Reising, Dr. Neul co-created the Behavioral Hematology-Oncology Program (BHOP), a program which focuses on providing evidence-based practices in the psychosocial assessment of youth diagnosed with cancer and hematological disorders and their families.
Michelle Reising, PhD
Dr. Reising is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in psychosocial intervention for youth with serious health conditions and their families. Her research is clinical intervention based with a focus on stress, trauma, coping, and quality improvement regarding patient-centered care. In collaboration with clinical psychologist, Dr. Shari Neul, Dr. Reising co-created the Behavioral Hematology-Oncology Program (BHOP).