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 (http://www.ovcwellbeing.org). 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.