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Kathryn Whetten

Professor, Public Policy, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine and Global Health
Director, Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research
Sanford School of Public Policy

(919) 613-5470

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Kathryn Whetten


Kathryn Whetten is a Professor of Public Policy and Global Health with additional appointments in Community and Family Medicine and Nursing. She is the Director of the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research which is part of the Duke Global Health Institute. Whetten is the Research Director of the Hart Fellows Program. Whetten's work focuses on the understanding of health disparities in the US and around the globe. Whetten's work focuses on life course events and social/environmental factors that influence health related behaviors and wellbeing ( In addition, she uses her research results to develop and test interventions that might improve outcomes. The goal of her research is to provide empirical evidence to policy makers to improve systems of caring for marginalized populations.

Whetten's research examines the health behaviors and outcomes of disadvantaged communities and individuals. She seeks to understand the interrelationships among individual and community psychosocial dynamics, health behaviors, health, provider characteristics and public policies. Whetten views these relationships as multidirectional. She examines and clarifies underlying group characteristics that can be addressing to improve individual and community well-being. Whetten is one of a small group of researchers examining adult health outcomes as they relate to a life-course of events and influences starting with childhood experiences within families and communities and continuing through present-day conditions that may be manipulated through intervention. All of Whetten's research is grounded in the idea that public policies can make a difference in people's lives. Whetten has led 18 federally funded research grants and is the author of 3 books and over 60 peer reviewed articles.

Currently, Whetten and her intervention, service and research team have research projects that address issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, mental health, substance abuse, being orphaned or abandoned, social justice, and poverty in the US Deep South and in less wealthy nations. She and her team work with colleagues in: the US Deep South; Tanzania; Kenya; Ethiopia; Cameroon; Malawi; India; Cambodia; and Russia conducting research and interventions.


Title Number Level Semester Requirements Fulfilled
Global Health Ethics

Ethical issues of conducting research on or working with marginalized/stigmatized populations,
using theoretical frameworks and case studies. Investigations of ethical choices made by
multinational, national and local policymakers, clinicians, and researchers and their impact on
individuals, families and communities. Emphasis on working with community partners in developing needs
assessment programs. Topics include: differential standards of care; protection of human subjects;
access to essential medicines; genetic information and confidentiality; pharmaceutical development;
health information technology; placebo controlled trials; best outcomes vs. distributive justice.

Course Notes:
Permission required. GLHLTH 150 or equivalent GH knowledge required. Priority given to Global Health Certificate students.
Was: GLHLTH 151
UG Only FALL 2015 MAJOR: Focused Study
MAJOR: Focused Study
MAJOR: Core – Ethics
MINOR: Ethics


Recent Publications

O'Donnell K, Yao J, Ostermann J, Thielman N, Reddy E, Whetten R, Maro V, Itemba D, Pence BW, Dow D, Whetten K. "Low rates of child testing for HIV persist in a high-risk area of East Africa." AIDS Care. 26(3): 326-331, 2014.

Thielman N, Ostermann J, Whetten K, Whetten R, Itemba D, Maro V, Pence BW, Reddy E. "Reduced Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy among HIV-infected Tanzanians Seeking Cure from the Loliondo Healer." JAIDS. 65(3):e104-e109, doi:10.1097/01.qai0000437619.23031.83, 2014.

Escueta, M, Whetten, K, Ostermann J, O''Donnell K, The Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) Research Team. Adverse childhood experiences, psychosocial well-being and cognitive development among orphans and abandoned children in five low income countries. BMC: International Health and Human Rights. 14(6): doi:10.1186/1472-698X-14-6 , 2014.

Pence BW, Gaynes BN, Atashil J, O'Donnell JK, Kats D, Whetten K, Njamnshi AK, Mbu T, Kefie C, Asanji S, Ndumbe P. "Feasibility, Safety, Acceptability, and Preliminary Efficacy of Measurement-Based Care Depression Treatment for HIV Patients in Bamenda, Cameroon." AIDS & Behavior. 2014. PMCID: In progress.

Reif S, Pence BW, Hall I, Hu X, Whetten K, Wilson E. "HIV Diagnoses, Prevalence and Outcomes in Nine Southern States." J Community Health. 2014.

Whetten K, Ostermann J, Pence BW, Whetten RA, Messer LC, Ariely S, O'Donnell K, Wasonga AI, Vann V, Itemba D, Eticha M, Madan I, Thielman NM, and The Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) Research Team. "Three-year change in the wellbeing of orphaned and separated children in institutional and family-based care settings in five low- and middle-income countries." PLOS ONE. 2014.

19. Thielman N, Ostermann J, Whetten K, Whetten R, Itemba D, Maro V, Pence BW, Reddy E. "Reduced Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy among HIV-infected Tanzanians Seeking Cure from the Loliondo Healer." JAIDS: In press, 2013.

O'Donnell K, Yao J, Ostermann J, Thielman N, Reddy E, Whetten R, Maro V, Itemba D, Pence B, Dow D, Whetten K. "Low rates of child testing for HIV persist in a high-risk area of East Africa." AIDS Care. 2013 July 22.

Lichtenstein B, Whetten K, Rubenstein C. "Notify Your Partners-It's the Law: HIV Providers and Mandatory Disclosure." J Int Assoc Provid AIDS Care. 2013 July 19.

Reif SS, Whetten K. "HIV/AIDS in the Southern United States: A Disproportionate Epidemic." AIDS Care. 2013 July.

Whetten K, Shirey K, Pence BW, Yao J, Thielman N, Whetten R, Adams J, Agala B, Ostermann J, O'Donnell K, Hobbie A, Maro V, Itemba D, Reddy E, The CHAT Research Team. "Trauma History and Depression Predict Incomplete Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapies in a Low Income Country." PLoS ONE 8(10): e74771. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074771

Pence BW, Whetten K, Shirey K, Yao J, Thielman N, Whetten R, Itemba D, Maro V. "Factors associated with change in sexual transmission risk behavior over 3 years among HIV-infected patients in Tanzania." PLoS One: In press, 2013.

Kathryn Whetten. "What's wrong with the Children in Families First Act: Opinion" New Jersey Star-Leder. Nov. 1, 2013. View

Whetten K and Pence B. "You're the First One I've Told": The New Faces of HIV in the South. Rutgers University Press. Second Edition, February 2013. View

Reif SS, Pence BW, LeGrand S, Wilson ES, Swartz M, Ellington T, Whetten K "In-Home Mental Health Treatment for Individuals with HIV. AIDS Patient Care STDS." 2012 Nov;26(11):655-61. doi: 10.1089/apc.2012.0242. n

Whetten K, Reif S, Toth M, Jain E, Leserman J, Pence BW. "Relationship between trauma and high-risk behavior among HIV-positive men who do not have sex with men (MDSM)." AIDS Care. Aug. 2012.n

Pence BW, Shirey K, Whetten K, Agala B, Itemba D, Adams J, Whetten R, Yao J, Shao J. "Prevalence of psychological trauma and association with current health and functioning in a sample of HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected Tanzanian adults." PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36304.

Pence BW, Gaynes BN, Atashili J, O'Donnell JK, Tayong G, Kats D, Whetten R, Whetten K, Njamnshi AK, Ndumbe PM. "Validity of an Interviewer-Administered Patient Health Questionnaire-9 to Screen for Depression in HIV-Infected Patients in Cameroon." Journal of Affective Disorders. 2012 143(1-3): 208-213.

Mohr S, Nolan J, Whetten K, Koenig H, Pieper C. "The role of spirituality and religion in the lives of outpatients with schizophrenia: a multi-site comparative study of Switzerland, Canada and the United States." International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine. 2012 44(1): 29-52. n

Thielman N, Ostermann J, Whetten K, Whetten R, O'Donnell K. "Correlates of Poor Health among Orphans and Abandoned Children in Less Wealthy Countries: The Importance of Caregiver Health." PLoS One. 2012 7(6): e38109.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038109

Pence, B.W., M.J. Mugavero, T. J. Carter, J. Leserman, N.M. Thielman, J.L. Raper, R.J. Proeschold-Bell, S. Reif K. Whetten. Childhood trauma and health outcomes in HIV-infected patients: An exploration of causal pathways. JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 59(4):409-416, April 1, 2012. DOI: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e31824150bb