Lawrence Palinkas is the Albert G. and Frances Lomas Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health and chair of the Department of Children, Youth and Families. He also holds secondary appointments as professor in the departments of anthropology and preventive medicine at USC.
A medical anthropologist, he is an expert in the areas of preventive medicine, cross-cultural medicine and health services research. He is particularly interested in behavioral health, global health and health disparities, implementation science, community-based participatory research, and the sociocultural and environmental determinants of health and health-related behavior with a focus on disease prevention and health promotion. His research has included studies of psychosocial adaptation to extreme environments and man-made disasters; mental health needs of older adults; cultural explanatory models of mental illness and service utilization; HIV and substance-abuse prevention in Mexico; evaluation of academic-community research practice partnerships; and the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices for delivery of mental health services to children, adolescents and underserved populations. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, National Institutes of Health, the MacArthur Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation. His current research encompasses implementation of child and adolescent mental health services, sustainment of prevention programs and initiatives, and effects of climate change on vulnerable populations. He also provides expertise to students and colleagues in the use of qualitative and mixed research methods.
Among Palinkas’ scholarly achievements are the Antarctic Service Medal from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Navy in 1989; deputy chief officer of the Life Sciences Standing Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research in 2002; chair of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute’s External Advisory Council in 2003; co-lead of the Grand Challenge for Social Work to create social responses to a changing environment; and membership on committees of the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, American Anthropological Association and Society for Applied Anthropology. He is the author of more than 360 publications.
University of California, San Diego: Ph. D. 1981
University of California, San Diego: M. A. 1975
University of Chicago: B. A. 1974
Areas of Expertise (10)
Industry Expertise (5)
Visiting Professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley (professional)
Sterling C. Franklin Award, Distinguished USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Faculty (professional)
Albert G. and Frances Lomas Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health, USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work (professional)
Mellon Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring Graduate Students, USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work (professional)
Media Appearances (5)
As temps soar, USC experts have hot ideas on what it means for us
“Body dehydration that occurs with heat stress can produce significant deterioration in cognitive functioning. Heat waves have been associated with increases in hospital admissions for mental health disorders, including dementia; mood [affective] disorders; neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders; disorders of psychological development; and senility,” according to Lawrence Palinkas, a professor of social work, anthropology and preventive medicine at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
“Some patients with mental illness are especially susceptible to heat. Dementia is a risk factor for hospitalization and death during heat waves. Medications may interfere with temperature regulation or even directly cause hyperthermia,” he explained...
Children suffer under threat of deportation, advocates say
Voice of America
Witnessing a loved one being arrested and deported may have significant effects on the mental health of children, says Lawrence Palinkas, a professor of social policy and health at the University of Southern California.
"The most common impact is anxiety and depression. Anxiety over the lack of stability and security in the family unit," Palinkas said. "Certainly, children tend to observe very closely the behavior of parents."...
Understanding climate change as a social issue: How research can help
“We see it perhaps most importantly as a social justice issue,” said Lawrence Palinkas, the Albert G. and Frances Lomas Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. “Generally the people most affected by climate change tend to be the poor, older adults, children and families, and people with a history of mental health problems — populations that are typically the focus of social work practice.”...
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner signs letter advocating for Obama immigration programs before Trump takes over
The Daily Orange
“Certainly, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to whether the new administration will look upon DACA in the same way as the current one does,” said Lawrence Palinkas, a professor of social policy and health at the University of Southern California. “In general, perhaps the most immediate impact if the order is renewed would be a reduction in anxiety because of the uncertainty of the future and the stress of the situation.”...
Artificial intelligence: Are we facing a future of robots running wild?
The USC Viterbi team includes Tambe; Phebe Vayanos, assistant professor in the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering; Professor Gaurav Sukhatme, chair of the Department of Computer Science; and Kristina Lerman, project leader at the USC Information Sciences Institute and research associate professor in the Department of Computer Science. Representing USC Social Work are Rice; Associate Professor Shinyi Wu and Lawrence Palinkas, the Frances L. and Albert G. Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health and chair of the Department of Children, Youth and Families...
Research Reports & Projects (3)
Cultural Exchange and the Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices
The dynamics of interactions between evidence-based intervention (EBI) developers and trainers and organizations
and providers that deliver the EBI was examined in two case studies, a statewide randomized effectiveness trial of
an EBI to reduce child neglect and a randomized trial of EBIs for depression, anxiety, and conduct problems in children
and adolescents. Methods: Data were collected using ethnographic methods of participant observation and semistructured
interviews and analyzed using grounded theory analytic methods. Results: Formal and informal interactions between EBI
propagators and end users provide access to resources and exchange of global and local knowledge of service delivery.
Productive interactions require accessibility, mutual respect, a shared language, and a willingness to engage in
negotiation and compromise to resolve differences in demands imposed by organizational culture, the need for EBI
fidelity, and client characteristics. Conclusion: A cultural exchange characterized by information sharing and
behavioral change through a process of negotiation and compromise is central to evidence-based practice in youth serving
systems of care.
Commentary: Cultural Adaptation, Collaboration, and Exchange
This commentary reviews three articles linked together by two themes (a) the use of cultural adaptation of evidence-based practices
to reduce disparities in health and services delivery and (b) the importance of collaboration involving intervention developers,
practitioners, and consumers when delivering services. Both themes illustrate a process of cultural exchange, enabling
researchers to develop interventions that are more meaningful and acceptable to consumers; providers to develop a stronger
therapeutic alliance with consumers; and consumers to develop greater understanding and acceptance of treatment process. Such
exchanges lead to improved consumer outcomes and greater satisfaction with services. By serving as a culture broker or change
agents, social workers can play a leadership role in the translation of research to practice.
Causality and Causal Inference in Social Work Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives
Achieving the goals of social work requires matching a specific solution to a specific problem. Understanding why the problem exists and why the solution should work requires a consideration of cause and effect. However, it is unclear whether it is desirable for social workers to identify cause and effect, whether it is possible for social workers to identify cause and effect, and, if so, what is the best means for doing so. These questions are central to determining the possibility of developing a science of social work and how we go about doing it. This article has four aims: (1) provide an overview of the nature of causality; (2) examine how causality is treated in social work research and practice; (3) highlight the role of quantitative and qualitative methods in the search for causality; and (4) demonstrate how both methods can be employed to support a “science” of social work.
Research Grants (2)
Measuring Sustainment in Prevention Programs and Initiatives
National Institute on Drug Abuse
This project will develop and test a measurement system to assess and support the sustainability of prevention programs funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the major provider of these prevention services to states and communities. It is intended to improve sustainment of prevention infrastructure, activities, and outcomes in communities.
Center for Prevention Implementation Methodology for Drug Use and HIV (Ce-PIM)
Ce-PIM is a national resource in the emerging field of implementation science, specifically in developing and applying implementation methodology to prevent HIV transmission and drug abuse. The methods developed by Ce-PIM improve the implementation of evidence-based interventions into service systems by measuring, modeling, and testing implementation strategies. While we apply these implementation methods to the prevention of HIV transmission and drug abuse, they are of general applicability to the challenges that researchers, policy makers, and practitioners face in scaling up evidence-based interventions in all areas of health and medicine.
Articles & Publications (5)
Lawrence A Palinkas, Sarah M Horwitz, Carla A Green, Jennifer P Wisdom, Naihua Duan, Kimberly Hoagwood
Purposeful sampling is widely used in qualitative research for the identification and selection of information-rich cases related to the phenomenon of interest. Although there are several different purposeful sampling strategies, criterion sampling appears to be used most commonly in implementation research. However, combining sampling strategies may be more appropriate to the aims of implementation research and more consistent with recent developments in quantitative methods...
John R Weisz, Bruce F Chorpita, Lawrence A Palinkas, Sonja K Schoenwald, Jeanne Miranda, Sarah Kate Bearman, Eric L Daleiden, Ana M Ugueto, Anya Ho, Jacqueline Martin, Jane Gray, Alisha Alleyne, David A Langer, Michael A Southam-Gerow, Robert D Gibbons, Research Network on Youth Mental Health
Decades of randomized controlled trials have produced separate evidence-based treatments for depression, anxiety, and conduct problems in youth, but these treatments are not often used in clinical practice, and they produce mixed results in trials with the comorbid, complex youths seen in practice. An integrative, modular redesign may help.
Lawrence A Palinkas, Gregory A Aarons, Sarah Horwitz, Patricia Chamberlain, Michael Hurlburt, John Landsverk
This paper describes the application of mixed method designs in implementation research in 22 mental health services research studies published in peer-reviewed journals over the last 5 years. Our analyses revealed 7 different structural arrangements of qualitative and quantitative methods, 5 different functions of mixed methods, and 3 different ways of linking quantitative and qualitative data together. Complexity of design was associated with number of aims or objectives, study context, and phase of implementation examined. The findings provide suggestions for the use of mixed method designs in implementation research.
Sonia Caprio, Stephen R Daniels, Adam Drewnowski, Francine R Kaufman, Lawrence A Palinkas, Arlan L Rosenbloom, Jeffrey B Schwimmer, M Sue Kirkman
Childhood obesity with its associated metabolic complications is emerging as a major global health challenge of the 21st century. Despite efforts by government and public health officials, researchers, health care providers, and the media to bring attention to this growing health problem, the number of overweight and obese youth continues to increase. Approximately 110 million children worldwide are now classified as overweight or obese.
Gregory A Aarons, Lawrence A Palinkas
Implementation of evidence-based practices (EBP) in child welfare is a complex process that is often fraught with unanticipated events, conflicts, and resolutions. To some extent, the nature of the process, problems, and solutions may be dependent on the perspectives and experiences of a given stakeholder group. In order to better understand the implementation process in the child-welfare system, we interviewed comprehensive home-based services (CHBS) case managers who were actively engaged in implementing an EBP to reduce child neglect in a state youth services system. Six primary factors were identified as critical determinants of EBP implementation: (1) Acceptability of the EBP to the caseworker and to the family, (2) Suitability of the EBP to the needs of the family, (3) Caseworker motivations for using the EBP, (4) Experiences with being trained in the EBP, (5) Extent of organizational support for EBP implementation, and (6) Impact of EBP on process and outcome of services. These factors reflect two broader themes of attitudes toward or assessments of the EBP itself and experiences with learning and delivering the EBP. Eventual implementation is viewed as the consequence of perseverance, experience, and flexibility.