See my updated webpage here:

SPARK lab [Supporting Promising Aging Research among Knights] is a research initiative by Dr. Tracy Wharton at the University of Central Florida School of Social Work.

This lab is focused on research related to aging in community based settings, workforce development for aging and adult related community-based services, dementia caregiving, and management of chronic conditions and healthcare access in community based settings. Student mentorship is supported in a range of related areas.

We’d love to work with you! Please be in touch about how we can collaborate. Email Dr. Wharton at


Social Work HEALS: Healthcare Education and Leadership Scholars (PI: Wharton). This NASW/CSWE 5-year grant (currently in year 4) funds 4 students (2 BSW, 2 MSW) per year in a mentored fellowship. Additionally, NASW awarded money that allowed us  produce two healthcare policy events in 2017. Students engage in interprofessional training in healthcare social work, consult with professional leaders and legislators in Tallahassee and Washington D.C., and engage with colleagues for mentored research and advocacy training.

Savvy Caregiver adaptations & Savvy Neighbors (PI: Wharton): This collaboration with Daniel Paulson in Psychology, Kenneth Hepburn at Emory, and The Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center of Orlando seeks to make adaptations to the Savvy Caregiver intervention to better meet the needs of our community, and further seeks to expand our psycho-educational reach to older adult communities aging in place.

Learning from Caregivers (PI: Wharton): This project explores the experiences and knowledge of caregivers for individuals with dementia who demonstrated aggressive or other high risk behaviors while living in the community. Targeted areas of information include whether patterns of behavior can be observed in early stages of disease, and whether caregivers perceive that available evidence-based interventions may have been helpful to them in retrospect.

Aggression in Dementia (PI: Wharton): This project is examining data collected from electronic medical records at the University of Michigan Health System.

SBIRT (PI: S. Lawrence): This project focuses on training community partners for assessment and intervention in substance use in adults. Dr. Wharton is a Co-PI.

Inter-Professional Education and the Apopka Clinic : This partnership with the College of Medicine, College of Nursing, Department of Physical Therapy, and UF’s College of Pharmacy focuses on team based health care through experiential case-based learning. Dr. Wharton is a member of the steering team for this project. The Apopka “pop-up” clinic runs quarterly in partnership with the Farmworker’s Association, and provides interprofessional team care for uninsured and underinsured migrant farmworker community members in the underserved area of Apopka, FL. We see between 60-150 patients at each clinic. The Apopka Clinic team was awarded the inaugural Interprofessional Team Impact award from the IPEC and US Public Health Service in 2017.

Musical Minds (PI: D. Paulson): This partnership with the Central Florida Community Arts Association seeks to evaluate the Musical Minds choir for individuals with dementia and their care partners. Dr. Wharton is a Co-PI.

Equine-facilitated group work for treatment of trauma in veterans (PI: Wharton; Co-PI: J. Whitworth): This project is a partnership with Heavenly Hooves of Kissimmee, FL.

Canine partnerships for Veterans (PI: J. Whitworth): This is a partnership with a colleague at St. Leo’s College that is examining data regarding canine programs. The aim is to establish evidence of efficacy. Dr. Wharton is a Co-PI.

Developing and pilot testing an EF-CPT intervention for treatment of combat-related trauma in veterans (PI: F. Scogin; Community Partner: Dr. Malone): This project is a partnership with Therapeutic Riding of Tuscaloosa in Tuscaloosa, AL, that focuses on an adaptation of the VA’s CPT protocol to integrate equine-facilitated face-to-face sessions. Dr. Wharton is a Co-PI.



OLDER lab, Dept of Psychology, UCF & Dr. Daniel Paulson

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center of Orlando

Farmworker’s Association of Orlando

Central Florida Community Arts Association

Heavenly Hooves & Horses for Heroes, Kissimmee, FL

Therapeutic Riding of Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa, AL

Horse Spirit for Soldiers, Hayward, WI

K9 Paws for Patriots

The Center, Orlando

Aging Research Institute of Alabama (ARIA), The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa

Women’s & Gender Studies, UCF

Amity Foundation, Nanjing, China


Selected Publications (**Graduate or Medical student/*Undergraduate)

Publications in the area of Geriatrics, Caregiving, and Healthcare:

**Desai, A., Wharton, T., Struble, L., & Blazek, M. (2017) Person-centered primary care strategies for assessment and intervention for aggressive behaviors in dementia. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, Feb. NIMHSID: 853930 

Wharton, T., Watkins, D., Mitchell, J., & Kales, H. (2017; online first). Expectations and attitudes towards formal mental health care for depression by African-American churchgoing older adults. Research on Aging

Wharton, T., Paulson, D., **Macri, L., & Dubin, L. (2017; online first). Delirium and mental health history as predictors of aggression in individuals with dementia in inpatient settings. Aging and Mental Health. doi:10.1080/13607863.2016.1235680 PMID: 27676119; NIHMS853931

Wharton, T., & Zivin, K. (2016; online first). Relationships between caregiving, income, gender and health: A cross-sectional examination of a representative sample of older Americans. Journal of Social Service Research. NIHMSID: 823512

Watkins, D., Wharton, T., Mitchell, J., Matusko, N., & Kales, H. (2016) Perceptions and receptivity of non-spousal family support: A mixed methods study of support for psychological distress among older, church-going African American men. Journal of Mixed-Methods Research. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1177/1558689815622707; NIHMSID: 757898

Wharton, T., & Gammonley, D. (2015) Geriatric Conditions. In The Behavioral Health Specialist in Primary Care: Skills for Integrated Practice (Burg & Oyama, Eds). Springer Publications.

Wharton, T., & Ford, B. (2014). What is known about violent and aggressive behavior in dementia caregiving? Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 57(5), 460-477. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2014.882466; PMID: 24593178

Wharton, T., Manu, E., & Vitale, C. (2014). Enhancing provider knowledge & screening for palliative needs in home-based multimorbid patients. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 32(1), 78-84. doi: 10.1177/1049909113514475. PMID: 24280188.

Baldwin, J., Church, W., & Wharton, T. (2013). The familial union between caregivers and the juvenile justice system. Journal of Family Strengths. 13(1), 1-17. PMCID: PMC4029339

Zivin, K., Wharton, T., & Rostandt, O. (2013). The economic, public health, and caregiver burden of late-life depression. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 36: 631–649. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2013.08.008 NIHMSID: 573228

Wharton, T., & Alexander, N. (2013). Evaluating a moving target: Lessons learned from using Practical Participatory Evaluation (P-PE) in hospital settings. American Journal of Evaluation. 34(3): 402-412. doi: 10.1177/1098214013477728. PMID: 24860251

Wharton, T., Nnodim, J., Hogikyan, R., Mody, L., James, M., Montagnini, M. & Fries, B. (2013). Assessing health status differences between VA Home-Based Primary Care and state Medicaid waiver program patients. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 14(4):260-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2012.10.015. PMCID: PMC3716450

Wharton, T., Shah, A., Scogin, F., & Allen, R. (2013) Evidence to support the Pike’s Peak Model: The UA Geropsychology program. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 2(7), doi: 10.1037/a0032285. NIHMSID: NIHMS572308.

Burgio, L., Collins, I., Schmid, B., Wharton, T., McCallum, D., & DeCoster, J. (2009). Translating the REACH caregiver intervention for use by Area Agency on Aging personnel: The REACH-OUT program. The Gerontologist, (49)1, 103-116. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnp012. PMCID: PMC3695600

Publications in the area of Workforce Development:

**Miller, A., Unruh, L., Wharton, T., Liu, X., & Zhang, N. (In press). The relationship between perceived organizational support, perceived coworker support, debriefing and professional quality of life in Florida law enforcement officers. International Journal of Police Science and Management. doi: 10.1177/146135571771799

Shah, A., Wharton, T., & Scogin, F. (In press). Adapting an interprofessional training model for social work field placements: An answer for better mental health care outreach for older adults in primary care. Journal of Teaching in Social Work.

Wharton, T., & Burg, M.A. (In press). A mixed-method evaluation of social work learning outcomes in interprofessional training with medicine and pharmacy students. Journal of Social Work Education. doi: 10.1080/10437797.2017.1288592

**Miller, A., Unruh, L., Zhang, N., Liu, X., & Wharton, T. (2017) Professional quality of life of Florida emergency dispatchers. International Journal of Emergency Services. 6, 29-39. doi: 10.1108/IJES-01-2017-0001.

Wharton, T. (2016) Rigor, transparency, and reporting social research: Why guidelines don’t have to kill your story. Research on Social Work Practice. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1177/1049731515622264; NIHMSID: 757901

Wharton, T. & Bolland, K. (2012) Practitioner perspectives of evidence-based practice. Families in Society, 93(3), 157-164. doi: 10.1606/1044-3894.4220

Wharton, T. (2008). Compassion fatigue: Being an ethical social worker. The New Social Worker.

Wharton, T., Sercu, C., Malone, M., & Macauley, B. (2005). An analysis of equine stress levels after participation in therapy sessions. Scientific and Educational Journal of Therapeutic Riding.

Publications in the area of Social Justice:

Li, X., Taylor, J., Church, W., Thomas, S., & Wharton, T. (2012) Exploring the potential for racial and gender bias in violations of probation petitions. Journal of Forensic Social Work, 1(2), 124-131.

Wharton, T. & Church, W. (2009). Consideration of One Area of Persistent Poverty in the US. Social Development Issues, 18(1).

Church, W., Wharton, T., & Taylor, J.K. (2009). An examination of differential association and social control theory: Family systems and delinquency. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 7(1). doi: 10.1177/1541204008324910

Publications In progress 

Whitworth, J., Monroe, M., & Wharton, T. Supporting combat veterans with PTSD and their families through therapeutic equine activities. In peer review

Beato, M., Dawson, N., Wharton, T. Examining The Effects Of An Otago-Based Home Exercise Program On Falls And Fall Risk In An Assisted Living Facility. In peer review

Chapple, R., Wharton, T., **Chapple, K. Intersections of race, deafness, and gender in college aged students. In peer review

**Burcher, K., **Lesch, H., Paulson, D., & Wharton, T. Antipsychotic medications at patient intake as a predictor for inpatient aggression in individuals with dementia. [draft available]

Kay, D., Mayes, D., Pabian, P., Wharton, T., Dawson, N., & Tucker, J. Health profession students’ perceptions of leadership, hierarchy and expertise utilization on interprofessional health care teams.

Wharton, T., Burg, M.A., Valvasori, P. Interprofessional education in healthcare settings: Training students to work in teams. [draft available]

Wharton, T., Chapple, R., **Burcher, K., **Lesch, H., **Chapple, K. Structural and systemic barriers to providing long-term services and support to aging d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing adults. [draft available]

Whitworth, J., Wharton, T., & Monroe, M. Group-based equine facilitated psychotherapy for veterans with trauma related symptoms.

**Burcher, K., Wharton, T., & Khalouq, B. Physician and patient agreement in health literacy.

**Miller, A., Unruh, L., Wharton, T., Liu, X., & Zhang, N. Individual and Organizations Factors Associated with Professional Quality of Life in Florida EMS personnel. International Journal of Emergency Services.