Professor of Social Work
PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Focus: Mental health of older adults in low-resource settings
Research: As senior Fulbright scholar in India and Botswana, more than 50 journal articles and presentations on topics ranging from dementia in India to grandmothers caring for HIV-AIDS-affected adolescents in Botswana.
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Denise Burnette is a professor at the School of Social Work. Her research focuses on health, mental health and psychosocial problems of older adults, particularly in the context of changing social structures in low-resource settings. In each setting, she works with health and mental health authorities, university faculty, and indigenous communities to identify their health and mental health concerns. Then she works collaboratively to develop evidence-based practices and policies to address those concerns.
As an International Scholar with the Open Society for the past decade, Professor Burnette has helped build research and teaching capacity of social work faculties in Albania, Mongolia and Moldova. She has also held Senior Fulbright fellowships at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and at the Centre for Research on HIV and AIDS at the University of Botswana. Since they are site-specific and determined collaboratively, her research projects vary by setting. Her current projects are on:
- help-seeking for dementia in India,
- measurement of social isolation in Mongolia,
- institutional capacity-building for working with historically traumatized older adults in Colombia, and
- older adults’ knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) on HIV and AIDS prevention in Botswana.
She is also analyzing data for persons aged 50 and over for two major surveys:
Prof. Burnette has more than a decade of professional social work practice experience in health and mental health settings, most of it with older adults and their families. In the M.S. program she works with the Advocates for Gerontological Education (AGE) Caucus and the International Social Welfare Caucus. She also teaches the courses titled Human Behavior and the Social Environment and Advanced Clinical Practice in Aging. In the doctoral program she teaches Qualitative Research Methods and a seminar on Global Mental Health and Psychosocial Problems. She is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the Gerontological Society of America and the New York Academy of Medicine.