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Christine Williams, D.N.Sc. - Florida Atlantic University. Boca Raton, FL, US

Christine Williams, D.N.Sc. Christine Williams, D.N.Sc.

Professor Emeritus | Florida Atlantic University


Dr. Williams' expertise is in geropsychiatric nursing. Her research focuses on people living with memory problems and their family members.



Christine Williams, D.N.Sc. Publication







Dr. Christine L. Williams is an internationally known expert in gerontological nursing. Following an extensive career as a clinician, educator, and researcher. She designed and tested a groundbreaking research program to help older couples affected by memory problems overcome communication barriers related to memory loss. As a board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and certified Nurse Coach, she has spoken to numerous national and international audiences, published 80 scholarly journal articles, a book and book chapters sharing her clinical and research expertise on older adults, particularly those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Currently she is Co-PI with a NIA funded interdisciplinary study on developing and testing a model promoting social interaction in groups of older adults with and without cognitive impairment.

Areas of Expertise (8)

Aging and Mental Health

Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias

Family Communication

Marital Relationships in Couples Affected by Dementia

Advanced Practice Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing

PhD Program Administration

Graduate Nursing Education

Scientific Writing

Accomplishments (3)

Ronald and Elizabeth Blake Distinguished Professor in Nursing

2010-2014 Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing

Excellence in Graduate Mentoring Award

2013 Florida Atlantic University

FloridaNurse.com Nursing Excellence Regional Winner in the Education and Mentorship category


Education (4)

Florida Atlantic University: Post Masters, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Boston University: D.N.Sc., Nursing Science 1986

Rutgers University: M.S., Advanced Psychiatric Nursing 1973

Fitchburg State University: B.S.N., Nursing 1971

Selected Media Appearances (1)

'All is not lost' to dementia, new study suggests

ScienceDaily  online


In marriage, good communication is key to a fulfilling and enduring relationship. For people with dementia, communicating needs, emotions and interacting with others becomes increasingly difficult as communication deteriorates as dementia progresses. Problems in communicating lead to misinterpretations and misunderstandings, which often cause considerable stress for family members, especially the spouse caregivers as well as the patient.

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Selected Articles (5)

When an Aging Spouse Has Dementia: Impact of a Home-Based Intervention on Marital Communication

Issues in Mental Health Nursing

Christine Williams, David Newman, Bandana Neupane Poudel

2021 Researchers tested the impact of a 10-week intervention, Communicating About Relationships and Emotions (CARE), on misunderstandings and resolutions in marital communication between spouses affected by dementia. A single group, repeated-measures secondary analysis was used to analyze 65 transcribed dyadic conversations for misunderstandings, resolutions, number of caregiver and care receiver words over 10 sessions. Misunderstandings continued to occur over 10 weeks, but resolution of misunderstandings increased (β = 5.75, p = .044). Increased caregiver words escalated misunderstandings. Dementia-related language impairments threaten relationships by creating frustration and stress in older couples. With CARE, spouse caregivers can improve resolution of misunderstandings.

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A comparison of spouse and non-spouse carers of people with dementia: a descriptive analysis of Swedish national survey data

BMC Geriatrics

Marcus F. Johansson, Kevin J. McKee, Lena Dahlberg, Christine L. Williams, Martina Summer Meranius, Elizabeth Hanson, Lennart Magnusson, Björn Ekman & Lena Marmstål Hammar

2021 Being an informal carer of a person with dementia (PwD) can have a negative effect on the carer’s health and quality of life, and spouse carers have been found to be especially vulnerable. Yet relatively little is known about the care provided and support received by spouse carers. This study compares spouse carers to other informal carers of PwDs regarding their care provision, the support received and the psychosocial impact of care.The study was a cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey of a stratified random sample of the Swedish population aged 18 or over. The questionnaire explored how much care the respondent provided, the support received, and the psychosocial impact of providing care. Of 30,009 people sampled, 11,168 (37.7 %) responded, of whom 330 (2.95 %) were informal carers of a PwD.

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Promoting Heart Health Among Rural African Americans

The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing

Laurie Abbott, Christine Williams, Elizabeth Slate, Sareen Gropper

2018 Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death for people living in the United States. African Americans bear a disproportionate burden of cardiovascular disease. Interventions designed to target multiple risk factors may facilitate elimination of cardiovascular disease health disparities.

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Assessment of Basic Knowledge About Alzheimer’s Disease Among Older Rural Residents: A Pilot Test of a New Measure

Journal of Nursing Measurement

Lisa Kirk Wiese, Christine Williams, Ruth Tappen, David Newman, Monica Rosselli

2017 Background and Purpose: Underserved rural populations face a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), yet studies investigating AD knowledge in this population are lacking. The purpose of this research was to develop an AD basic knowledge measure that is appropriate for use with underserved populations. Method: A content domain map, content validity index, and cognitive interviews were used in developing the first version of the basic knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease (BKAD; Study 1). Reliability and validity of the measure in this descriptive study were examined using Rasch modeling and tests for construct, concurrent, and discriminate validity (Study 2). Multiple regression was employed to examine AD knowledge predictors. Results: Findings included that the BKAD instrument discriminated well between persons with varied education levels. Psychometric analysis yielded important information to guide revision of the BKAD measure. Conclusion: The BKAD measure shows promise in meeting the need for a culturally relevant measure to assess basic Alzheimer’s disease knowledge in underserved rural populations.

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Preliminary Psychometric Properties of the Verbal and Nonverbal Interaction Scale: An Observational Measure for Communication in Persons with Dementia

Issues in Mental Health Nursing

Christine L. Williams, David Newman, Lena Marmstål Hammar

2017 Little attention has been given to sociable/unsociable communication in persons with dementia despite the importance of these behaviors in maintaining engagement in marital relationships. An observational measure of verbal and nonverbal communication in persons with dementia (Verbal and Nonverbal Interaction Scale-CR) who were engaged in conversations with spouses was tested for reliability and validity. Married persons with dementia were video-recorded at home conversing with spouses over 10 weeks (N = 118 recordings). Reliability [inter-coder (.92), test-retest (r =.61-.77), internal consistency (α =.65 -.79)] were adequate. Following an intervention, the Verbal and Nonverbal Interaction Scale-CR predicted improved communication over 10 weeks. The ratio of sociable to unsociable communication improved by 4.46 points per session [β = 4.46, t(10) = 1.96, p =.039]. VNVIS-CR is recommended to describe sociable and unsociable communication in persons with dementia as they engage in conversations with spouses.

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