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Current Research Programs

Experiences of Adopted and Fostered Individuals Project

Dr. Landers is leading this project in collaboration with First Nations Repatriation Institute (FNRI). In this project, Dr. Landers is analyzing secondary survey data from American Indian and White adults who were separated from their birth families during childhood by foster care and/or adoption. The project aims to explore the experiences of adopted and fostered individuals related to foster care, adoption, reunification or reconnecting with birth family, tribal connections, mental health, and wellness. The research team is examining the process of reunification for American Indian fostered and adopted individuals, relationships with permanent and substitute caregivers, and mental health problems. 

American Indian Birthmother Study

Dr. Landers is carrying out this study in collaboration with First Nations Repatriation Institute (FNRI). The project explores the maternal mental health, substance abuse, grief, and trauma of American Indian birthmothers who have lost a child to foster care and/or adoption. 

Meta-Analytic Reviews

Given the significant volume of research generated in the social sciences, systematic reviews are key to organizing and better understanding the social science literature.  Dr. Jackson is working on several meta-analytic studies to quantitatively organize the couple relationship outcome literature (i.e., factors that predict couple satisfaction and stability): premarital predictors, family of origin predictors, personality characteristics, and economic strain.  Other met-analysis projects Dr. Jackson is working on include couple relationship interactions as predictors of physical health, couple therapy treatment effectiveness, family therapy effectiveness for children, and adjustment of siblings of people with autism.

Empirically Supported Marriage & Family Therapy Treatments

It is estimated that 43.6 million adults (18.1%) in the U.S. have mental illness. Consequently, there is considerable attention being given to the development and implementation of empirically-validated mental health treatments. Legislation, federal funding, managed health care, and third-party reimbursement are becoming increasingly contingent upon the implementation of empirically validated therapy treatments that have demonstrated efficacy for the diagnosis being addressed. The American Psychological Association (APA) has established criteria for evaluating outcome research efficacy and designating empirically supported treatments (ESTs), the golden standard for outcome efficacy.  Although marriage and family therapy (MFT) has been established as an overall effective treatment modality, a greater understanding is needed of which specific MFT treatments are effective for specific diagnoses. Dr. Jackson is working with a team of graduate students to provide a comprehensive evaluative review of MFT treatments by specific diagnoses using EST criteria.