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Cheryl Woods Giscombe, Ph.D., R.N., PMHNP-BC - UNC-Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, NC, US

Cheryl Woods Giscombe, Ph.D., R.N., PMHNP-BC Cheryl Woods Giscombe, Ph.D., R.N., PMHNP-BC

Associate Professor, with tenure- Melissa and Harry LeVine Family and Distinguished Associate Professor in Quality of Life, Health Promotion, and Wellness in the School of Nursing | UNC-Chapel Hill


Melissa and Harry LeVine Family Professor of Quality of Life, Health Promotion and Wellness





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Take the Time.: Cheryl Woods Giscombé at TEDxNCSSM




Cheryl L. Woods Giscombé, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC is the Melissa and Harry LeVine Family Professor of Quality of Life, Health Promotion and Wellness. Her program of research focuses on understanding and reducing stress-related health disparities among African Americans. Her research incorporates sociohistorical and biopsychosocial perspectives to investigate how stress and coping strategies contribute to stress-related psychological and physical health outcomes. Dr. Giscombé has a particular interest in the potential for integrative approaches to reduce mental health-related disparities among African Americans.

Dr. Giscombé is dually trained in nursing and psychology. She completed a BA in psychology from North Carolina Central University and a BSN from Stony Brook University in New York. She earned MA and PhD degrees in social and health psychology from Stony Brook University and a MSN from the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner/clinical nurse specialist program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Giscombé completed certification in holistic health from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in Manhattan, New York. In addition, she completed postdoctoral training at UNC Chapel Hill (Interventions to Prevent and Manage Chronic Illness funded by NIH/NINR and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Minority Fellowship Program in collaboration with the American Nurses Association). In 2007 Dr. Giscombé was selected as a “Leader in the Field” by the American Psychological Association when she was awarded the Carolyn Payton Early Career Award.

Dr. Giscombé is particularly grateful for her immediate family (husband, Kessonga and two daughters, Zuri and Zola) her extended family, friends, and mentors who support and inspire her both professionally and personally.

Industry Expertise (7)

Health and Wellness

Health Care - Providers

Health Care - Services


Public Policy

Medical/Dental Practice


Areas of Expertise (5)

Social Health



Mental Health

Holistic Health

Accomplishments (3)

Brilliant New Investigator Award (professional)

2012 Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science

Appointed, Association of American Medical Colleges Humanities & Arts Integration Committee (professional)


Appointed, Association of American Medical Colleges Humanities & Arts Integration Committee

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Service (professional)


North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Service

Education (5)

Stony Brook University: Ph.D., Social and Health Psychology

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: M.S.N., Nursing

Stony Brook University: M.A., Social and Health Psychology

Stony Brook University: B.S.N., Nursing

North Carolina Central University: B.A., Psychology

Affiliations (2)

  • American Psychological Association
  • American Nurses Association

Media Appearances (5)

The 'Strong Black Superwoman' Syndrome

Education Week  online


Research by Angela Black, Cheryl Woods-Giscombe, and Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant have researched the link between embodied racial and gender oppression and the SBW script and decrease self-care and negative long-term health consequences...

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Faculty Engaged Scholar Cheryl Giscombe is dedicated to serving

UNC News  


Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar Dr. Cheryl Giscombe, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, is undertaking research to combat inequities in the healthcare system. “I am motivated by my desire to contribute to the elimination of health and healthcare disparities,” Giscombe said. “My goal is to be an ambassador for mental health so that all people have access to high quality mental health.” Giscombe’s current research, which ranges from an emphasis on the Superwoman Schema to community-based research on substance abuse relapse prevention, aims to fight the siloing of biological, mental and emotional aspects of health. Giscombe’s research has proven that the intersectionality between these three factors are important. Her findings from the Superwoman Schema, which studies stress and obesity in African-American women, have been cited on the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Fact Sheet on Stress and Health Disparities.

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What Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ means for women who have miscarried

Washington Post  print


Cheryl Woods-Giscombé, an associate professor who specializes in mental health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill’s School of Nursing, said the health event is agonizingly common. But many people don’t talk openly about their experiences. And when they do, they’re often misunderstood.

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Women in Science Wednesdays

UNC Endeavors  print


Women in Science Wednesday highlights UNC researchers at all levels of their careers across dozens of fields. From medicine to mathematics to sociology, women at Carolina excel in research, mentorship, and advocacy.

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Does being a ‘superwoman’ protect African American women’s health?

https://news.berkeley.edu/2019/09/30/does-being-a-superwoman-protect-african-american-womens-health/  print


The stereotype of the “strong black woman” is more than just a cultural trope: Many black women in America report feeling pressured to act like superwomen, projecting themselves as strong, self-sacrificing, and free of emotion to cope with the stress of race- and gender-based discrimination in their daily lives.

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Articles (7)

Applying the Stress and 'Strength' Hypothesis to Black women's breast cancer screening delays

Stress and Health

2012 Associations between stress and breast cancer highlight stressful life events as barriers to breast cancer screening, increased stress due to a breast cancer scare or diagnosis, or the immunosuppressive properties of stress as a risk factor for breast cancer ...

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Mind-Body Interventions to Reduce Risk for Health Disparities Related to Stress and Strength Among African American Women

Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2010 In the current article, the authors examine the potential role of mind-body interventions for preventing or reducing health disparities in a specific group—African American women. The authors first discuss how health disparities affect this group, including empirical evidence regarding the influence of biopsychosocial processes (e.g., psychological stress and social context) on disparate health outcomes...

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Superwoman schema: African American women's views on stress, strength, and health

Qualitative Health Research

2010 Researchers have suggested that health disparities in African American women, including adverse birth outcomes, lupus, obesity, and untreated depression, can be explained by stress and coping. The Strong Black Woman/Superwoman role has been ...

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The impact of miscarriage and parity on patterns of maternal distress in pregnancy

Research in Nursing and Health

2010 The purpose of the current study was to examine patterns of state anxiety and pregnancy-specific distress across pregnancy in a diverse sample of women with (n = 113) and without (n = 250) prior miscarriage. For both groups, state anxiety and pregnancy-specific distress were highest in the first trimester and decreased significantly over the course of pregnancy. Compared to women without prior miscarriage, women with prior miscarriage experienced greater state anxiety in the second and third trimesters. Having a living child did not buffer state anxiety in women with a prior miscarriage...

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Race and gender matter: A multidimensional approach to conceptualizing and measuring stress in African American women

Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology

2008 Based on prior research and theory, the authors constructed a multidimensional model of stress in African American women comprised of race-related, gender-related, and generic stress. Exposure to and appraisal of these three types of stress were combined ...

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The science of nursing and evidence-based practice.

In Professional Nursing: Concepts and Challenges.

Black, B. P., Knobel, R., & Woods-Giscombe, C


Sherwood, G., Horton-Deutsch, Sara, & Woods-Giscombe, C. (2017). Attention to self as nurse: Caring for patients, caring for self, making sense of practice. In Sherwood & Horton-Deutsch (Eds.). Reflective Practice: Transforming Education and Improving Outcomes, Second Edition. Woods-Giscombe, C. L., Johnson Rowsey, P., Kneipp, S. M., Lackey, C., & Bravo, L. (2019). Student perspectives on recruiting underrepresented ethnic minority students to nursing: Enhancing outreach, engaging family, and correcting misconceptions. Journal of Professional Nursing. Woods-Giscombe, C. L., Gaylord, S. A., Li, Y., Brintz, C. E., Bangdiwala, S. I….Faurot, K. (2019). Mindfulness-Based stress management and diabetes prevention education for African Americans with prediabetes: A mixed-methods, randomized trial to examine feasibility. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2019. Allen, A. M., Wang, Y., Chae, D. H., Price, M. M., Powell, W., Steed, T., Black, A., Dhabhar, F. S., Marquez-Magana, L., & Woods-Giscombe, C. L. (2019). Racial discrimination, the superwoman schema, and allostatic load: exploring an integrative stress-coping model among African American women. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, (XXX), 1-23. Woods-Giscombe, C. L., Steed, T. C., Allen, A., Li, Y., Lackey, C., & Black, A. R. (2019). The Giscombe Superwoman Schema Questionnaire: Psychometric properties and associations with mental health and health behaviors in African American women. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 40, 8, 672-68. NOTE: second and fifth authors are Woods-Giscombe’s students/mentees). Woods-Giscombe, C. L. (2018). Reflections on the development of the Superwoman Schema Conceptual Framework: An intersectional approach guided by African American womanist perspectives. Meridians, 16(2), 333-342. DOI: 10.2979/meridians.16.2.14.

Innovative clinical training site for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner students: Elementary school-based group therapy.

Issues in Mental Health Nursing.

Hubbard, G., Woods-Giscombe, C. L., Vimba, N., & Hageman, A.


Kowlowitz, V., Johnson Rowsey, P., Byrns, P., Woods-Giscombe, C., Kneipp, S. M., Page, J., & Fowler-Gray, T.(In Press). Careers Beyond the Bedside: An Effective Program to Increase Diversity in Nursing. Journal of Cultural Diversity. *Devane-Johnson, S., Woods-Giscombe, C., Williams, R., Thoyre, S., & Fogel, C. (In Press). A qualitative study of social, cultural, and historical influences on African American women’s infant feeding practices. Journal of Perinatal Education. Stress and Health Disparities Working Group at the American Psychological Association (Brondolo, E., Byer, K., Giscombe, C., Kaplan, J., Liu, C., Prather, A., Thomas, K. (In Press). Stress and Health Disparities: Contexts, Mechanisms and Interventions among Racial/Ethnic Minority and Low Socioeconomic Status Populations. An Official Report of the American Psychological Association: Washington: DC. Vinesett, A. L., Whaley, R. R., Giscombe, C. W., Dennis, P., Johnson, M., Li, Y., Mounzeo, P., Baegne, M., & Wilson, K. H. (In Press). Modified African Ngoma healing ceremony for stress reduction: A pilot study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. *Devane-Johnson, S., Woods-Giscombe, C., Williams, R., Thoyre, S., & Fogel, C. (In Press). A qualitative study of social, cultural, and historical influences on African American women’s infant feeding practices. Journal of Perinatal Education. *Devane-Johnson, S., Woods-Giscombe, C. (In Press). Integrative literature of factors related to breastfeeding in African American women: Evidence for a potential paradigm shift. Journal of Human Lactation. Hodges, E. A., Johnson Rowsey, P., Fowler, T., Kneipp, S., Giscombe, C., Foster, B., Alexander, R., & Kowlowitz, V. (2017). Bridging the Gender Divide: Smoothing the Educational Path for Men in Nursing. Journal of Nursing Education. Woods-Giscombe, C. L. (2016). The development of the Interprofessional Leadership Institute for Mental Health Equity. Collaborative Healthcare: Interprofessional Practice, Education and Evaluation (JCIPE), 7(2), Article 3. Woods-Giscombe, C. L., Carthron, D., Robinson, M., & Devane-Johnson, S. & Corbie-Smith, G. (2016). Superwoman Schema, stigma, spirituality, and (culturally) sensitive providers: Factors influencing mental health service utilization in African American women. Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity: Research, Education, and Policy, 9, 1124-1144.