Our Research

Advancing social support measurement among refugee and asylee women in the United States

Investigators: Karin Wachter (Principal Investigator), Roseanne Schuster, Godfred Boateng (co-Investigators)

  • Our team is developing a cross-culturally validated multidimensional measure of social support to examine mechanisms through which social support buffers adverse health outcomes in the U.S. resettlement context. 

Pre- and post-resettlement drivers of intimate partner violence among Afghan refugees in the United States

Principal Investigator: Karin Wachter

Funding: Harry Frank Guggenheim Distinguished Scholars Award (2023-2025)

  • This study seeks to advance knowledge of gender dynamics and drivers of intimate partner violence among recently arrived Afghans in the U.S. 

Compassion and Provider Well-being Among U.S.-based Refugee Resettlement Practitioners

Investigators: Graeme Rodgers (International Rescue Committee), Stacey Shaw (Brigham Young University), Karin Wachter (co-Principal Investigators)

Funding: Office of Refugee Resettlement (recipient: Switchboard) (2023) 

  • Using a multi-method design, the study examines how compassionate service delivery shapes staff resilience, burnout, and other occupational outcomes.  

Harnessing Artificial Intelligence with Community Engagement to Devise Precision Public Health Strategies to Reduce Vaccine Hesitancy among Pregnant and Lactating Refugee Women

Funding: Merck Foundation (2022-2024)  

Investigators: Alexis Koskan, Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, Li Liu (Multiple Principal Investigators)

  • Our goal is to utilize mixed methods and community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles to examine vaccine hesitancy among pregnant and lactating refugee women by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to delineate precision public health strategies to advance health equity in COVID-19 vaccine uptake among parturient refugee women.

“Life is worth living:” Leveraging social networks to promote emotional well-being among resettled refugees

Funding: National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the U54 Specialized Center of Excellence (2021-2023)

Investigators: Mee-Young Um (Principal Investigator), Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, (Senior Co-Investigator)

  • The aim of this effort is to collect social network data to identify individual- and network-level correlates of suicidal thoughts. Findings will inform the development of culturally appropriate suicide interventions that detect suicidal thoughts and leverage key network members to prevent suicide risk in refugee communities.

Understanding barriers and facilitators refugee communities experience in staying healthy and accessing healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic

Investigators: Crista Johnson-Agbakwu (Principal Investigator), Roseanne Schuster, Karin Wachter, Olga Davis (co-Principal Investigators)

Funding: The Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions COVID-19 Community Mitigation Grants, Arizona State University (2020-2021). 

  • The aim of this project is to elucidate insights into challenges faced by refugee communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and to derive effective solutions to mitigate COVID-19 transmission and advance health equity for vulnerable communities. 

“Something is missing here:” Culturally relevant measurement of social support among Congolese refugee women in resettlement

Investigators: Karin Wachter (Principal Investigator), Roseanne Schuster, Godfred Boateng (York University), Crista Johnson-Agbakwu (co-Investigators)

Funding: National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the U54 Specialized Center of Excellence (2017-2022)

  • The aim of this pilot project is to develop culturally-relevant and contextually-specific social support scale questions based on a sequential multi-methods research design.

Enhancing Culturally-Informed Health Care Services for Women Affected by Female Genital Cutting in Arizona

Principal Investigator: Crista Johnson-Agbakwu

Funding: Office on Women’s Health (OWH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) (2016-2019)

  • The focus of this project is to elucidate the gaps in care and enhance the provision of Female Genital Cutting (FGC)-related health care and social services for women in Arizona who have experienced FGC. This project is designed to build greater capacity among health and social service providers across Arizona to care for FGC-affected populations and build community knowledge and awareness of FGC-related health issues and available services.



Schuster, R.C., Wachter, K., McRae, K.,* McDaniel, A.,* Davis, O.I., Nizigiyimana, J., + Johnson-Agbakwu, C. (2024). "If you don't have the heart to help, you cannot do this job:” The multidimensional wellbeing of community health workers serving refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualitative Health Research. doi:10.1177/10497323231209836

Azugbene E.A. (2023) Maternal Health Experiences and Health Care Utilization of African Immigrant Women: A Review of The Literature. Maternal and Child Health Journal. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-023-03644-1 

Johnson-Agbakwu, C. E., Michlig, G. J., Koukoui, S., Akinsulure-Smith, A. M., & Jacobson, D. S. (2023). Health outcomes and female genital mutilation/cutting: How much is due to the cutting itself? International Journal of Impotence Research, 1-10.

Mercado, M., Wachter, K., Schuster, R.C., Mathis, C.M., Johnson, E., Davis, O., Johnson-Agbakwu, C. (2022). A cross-sectional analysis of factors associated with stress, burnout, and turnover intention among health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Health & Social Care in the Community, 30(5), e2690-e2701. doi.org/10.1111/hsc.13712

Um, M. Y., Rice, E., Lee, J. O., Kim, H. J., & Palinkas, L. A. (2022). Suicidal ideation among North Korean refugees in South Korea: Exploring the influence of social network characteristics by gender. Transcultural psychiatry, 59(1), 52-62. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461520935314 

Johnson-Agbakwu, C. E. (2022). The Impact of Racism and the Sociopolitical Climate on the Birth Outcomes of Migrant Women, Mothers, and Birthing People in the United States. Medical care, 60(11), 795-798.

Wachter, K., Bunn, M., Schuster, R.C., Boateng, G., Cameli, K., & Johnson-Agbakwu, C., (2021). A scoping review of social support research among refugees in resettlement: Implications for conceptual and empirical research. Journal of Refugee Studies. doi.org/10.1093/jrs/feab040

Johnson-Agbakwu, C. (2020). Understanding cultural perspectives and the health care needs of Somali women with female genital cutting: Results form a community-based survey. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 42(2), e21.