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J. Denise Burnette, Ph.D.

Samuel S. Wurtzel Endowed Faculty Chair in Social Work and professor

Email: jdburnette@vcu.edu

Phone: (804) 828-2859

M.S. Mental Health Policy & Services, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Ph.D., University of California

M.S.S.W., University of Tennessee   

B.A., University of Tennessee

B.S., University of Tennessee

Denise Burnette, Ph.D. is the Samuel S. Wurtzel Professor of Social Work at VCU. Her research focuses on global mental health, with an emphasis on health and psychosocial problems and related service needs of older adults in low-resource settings. She has held Senior Fulbright research fellowships in India and Botswana, and served as an International Scholar with the Open Society in Central Asia and the Balkans for almost a decade. Burnette’s program of research aims to inform the development and delivery of effective, appropriately targeted services in locales where there is a significant mental health treatment gap for older adults. Her current projects include a study of cultural idioms of mental distress in a remote community in the Peruvian Andes (with Richmond Global Health Alliance); adaptation of an evidence-based psychosocial intervention for common mental disorders in older adults in Puerto Rico and analyses of nationally representative data from China and India in the World Health Organization Study on Global Aging and Adult Health (SAGE).

Burnette has taught extensively across M.S.W. and Ph.D. curricula and in related disciplines. Her teaching experience is mainly in quantitative and qualitative research methods, foundation and advanced practice, and aging services. She has also held academic administrative positions and she currently directs the School’s Ph.D. program. A core component of Burnette’s research agenda in low- and middle-income countries is capacity-building with faculty and students in collaborating schools of social work and public health. Examples include dissertation supervision, classroom teaching, community lectures, seminars, and training workshops and individual and departmental faculty development initiatives.   

Burnette has more than a decade of direct social work practice experience in medical and public psychiatric settings. She holds certification in Management Development for College and University Administrators from Harvard University and is Professor Emerita at Columbia University School of Social Work

Awards, honors and appointments

  • 2018 University of Richmond Faculty Seminar to South Africa, Virginia Commonwealth University Representative
  • 2018 Phi Kappa Phi
  • 2013 American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, Fellow
  • 2012-13 Senior Fulbright Scholar, Center for Study of HIV/AIDS, University of Botswana, Gaborone
  • 2008-15 International Scholar, Academic Fellowship Program, Soros Open Society Foundations
  • 2006-07 Senior Fulbright Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Mumbai, India
  • 2003 New York Academy of Medicine, Fellow
  • 2001 Nathan Cummings Visiting Lecturer, University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration
  • 1999 Association of Gerontology Education in Social Work, Faculty Achievement Award
  • 1999 New York State Office for Aging/State Society on Aging, New York State Aging Scholar
  • 1998 Gerontological Society of America, Fellow; Social Research, Policy & Practice
  • 1998 Lydia Rapoport Distinguished Visiting Professor, Smith College School for Social Work
  • 1990 Sigma Phi Omega, National Academic Honor and Professional Society in Gerontology
  • 1989 University of California, Berkeley, Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor
  • 1972 Phi Beta Kappa

Selected publications

Witte, S.S., Burnette, D., Myarmarjav, S. & Toivgoo, A. (In press). Building and sustaining a robust, collaborative network for psychosocial well-being in Mongolia. Global Social Welfare: Research, Policy and Practice.  Special issue on Equity, Collaboration and Empowerment in Mental Health Research Partnerships. M. Kumar, O.S. Bahar & K-Y Huang (Guest Editors),

McDonald, S.E., Im, H., Green K.E., Luce, C.O. & Burnette, D. (2018). Comparing factor models of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with Somali refugee youth in Kenya: An item response theory analysis of the PTSD Checklist–Civilian Version. Traumatology, Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/trm0000175

Burnes, D., Lachs, M. Burnette, D. & Pillemer, K. (2017). Varying appraisals of elder mistreatment among victims: Findings from a population-based study.  Journals of Gerontology B: Psychological Sciences, Social Sciences doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbx005.

Burnette, D., Ama, N.O., & Shaibu, S. (2016). HIV-related knowledge and practices: A cross-sectional study of adults aged 50 years and over in Botswana. South African Family Practice, 58 (3), 100-7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20786190.2016.1167310

Ama, N.O., Burnette, D. & Shaibu, S. (2016). Healthcare providers’ attitude towards older adults with HIV and AIDS in Botswana. Journal of AIDS and HIV Research. 8(10), 136-149. doi:10.5897/JAHR2016.0389

Burnette, D. (2016). Evidence, expertise and ethics: The making of an influential in American social work. Research on Social Work Practice, 26 (6), 609-21. (invited oral history with Eileen Gambrill) doi:10.1177/1049731516652944

Sharma, S., Burnette, D., Bhattacharya, A. & Nath S. (2016). Community participation in rural primary education: An underestimated and understudied component of India’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All) initiative,” Psychosociological Issues in Human Resource Management, 4(1): 96–114.

Burnette, D. & Spencer-Suarez, K. (2016). Mixed-methods research. Oxford Bibliographies in Social Work. New York: Oxford University Press.  DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195389678-0234

Burnette, D., Duca, V. & Dhembo, E. (2016) Psychological distress, social support, and quality of life among cancer caregivers in Albania: A moderated mediation analysis of social support and gender. Psycho-Oncology. DOI: 10.1002/pon.4081

Burnette, D., Soletti, A.B. & Sridhar, R. (2015). Stress, social support and subjective well-being of older adults in Mumbai. Indian Journal of Social Work, 76 (3), 357-78.

Ama, N., Dwivedi, V., Shaibu, S. & Burnette, D. (2015). Socio-economic and demographic determinants of HIV status among HIV-infected older adults (50-64 years) In Botswana: Evidence from 2013 Botswana AIDS Impact Survey (BAIS IV). Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research 6:448. DOI:10.4172/2155-6113.1000448

Bainame, K., Burnette, D. & Shaibu, S. (2014). Socio-demographic correlates of older adult living arrangements in Botswana. Botswana Notes and Records, 47, 106-20. [Special issue on the 2011 Population and Housing Survey].

DeVylder, J., Burnette, D. & Yang, L. (2014). Co-occurrence of psychotic experiences and common mental health conditions across four racially and ethnically diverse population samples. Psychological Medicine, 44 (16), 3503-13.  DOI: 10.1017/S0033291714000944.

Sun, F., Gao, X., Shen, H. & Burnette, D. (2014) Levels and correlates of knowledge about Alzheimer’s Disease among older Chinese Americans. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 29 (2), 173-83. DOI: 10.1007/s10823-014-9229-6.

Burnette, D. & Myagmarjav, S. (2013). Translation and validation of the Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-18) with older adults in Mongolia. International Psychogeriatrics, 25 (9), 1493- 1502. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S104161021300080X

Burnes, D. & Burnette, D. (2013). Broadening the etiological discourse on Alzheimer's disease to include trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder as psychosocial risk factors. Journal of Ageing Studies, 27 (3), 218-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaging.2013.03.002

Burnette, D., Sun, J. & Sun, F. (2013). A comparative review of grandparent care of children in the U.S. and China. Ageing International. 38 (1), 43-57. DOI: 10.1007/s12126-012-9174-z

Sun, F., Ong, R., & Burnette, D. (2012). The influence of ethnicity and culture on dementia caregiving: A review of empirical studies on Chinese Americans. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & other Dementias, 27 (1), 13-22. DOI: 10.1177/1533317512438224

Guilamo-Ramos, V., Soletti, A.B., Burnette, D., Sharma, S. Leavitt, S. & McCarthy, K. (2012). Parent-adolescent communication about sex in rural India: United States-India collaboration to prevent adolescent HIV. Qualitative Health Research, 20 (10), 1-13.   DOI: 10.1177/1049732311431943