Associate professor Ishan Williams – immediate past president of the Southern Gerontological Society, who teaches health policy, evidence-based practice, health promotion and population health, and culture and diversity courses – studies quality of life and healthcare among older adults and their family caregivers, with a particular eye on vulnerable populations. Her current research focuses on quality-of-life issues among older adults with dementia, chronic disease management for older adults with Type 2 diabetes, and a study on the link between cognition and vascular problems among African American adults.

She also collaborates with colleagues on work focused on advance directives, end-of-life concerns, patients’ transitions between home, community and hospital settings, and how individuals with chronic conditions share information about their health issues on social media.

Williams earned a degree in psychology at UNC Chapel Hill, a MS and a PhD in human development and family studies at UNC Greensboro before completing a postdoctoral fellowship at UNC Chapel Hill’s Institute on Aging. A member of the National Hartford Centers for Gerontological Excellence, a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and one of AARP’s Public Policy Institute Roundtable members, Williams serves on the Lindsay Institute’s Caregiving Advisory Council and is associate editor for Ethnicity & Health.

Honors and Awards

Research Focus

Conducting culturally relevant and sensitive research among vulnerable populations, such as rural and minority populations, around the areas of chronic illness and mental health among older adults and their caregivers.

Teaching Focus

Culture and health; health promotion and health behavior research


Advance Online Publications

• Wiese, L. K., Williams, I. C., Holt, J. K., Williams, C. L., Lingler, J., Galvin, J. E., & Schoenberg, N. E. (2023). Testing the "Faith Moves Mountains model" to increase Alzheimer’s disease awareness, detection, and diagnosis among rural, racially, and ethnically diverse older adults. Aging & Mental Health. Advance online publication.

Zhao, H., Kulbok, P. A., Williams, I. C., Manning, C., Logan, J. G., & Romo, R. D. (2023). Exploring Experiences of Pain Management Among Family Caregivers of Community-Dwelling Older Adults with Dementia. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Advance online publication.

Journal Articles

Wright, Q. C., Wiencek, C. A., & Williams, I. C. (2024). Utilizing a tailored approach to standardized screening of health-related social needs. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 39(2), 114-120.

Epps, F., Gore, J., Flatt, J. D., Williams, I. C., Wiese, L., Masoud, S. S., & Franks, N. (2024). Synthesizing best practices to promote health equity for older adults through community-engaged research. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 17(1), 9-16.

Rogers, C. C., Jang, S. S., Tidwell, W., Shaughnessy, S., Hauck, F. R., Williams, I. C., & Valdez, R. S. (2024). Expanding human factors/ergonomics to address social determinants of health: A patient ergonomics approach to birth justice. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 99(2024), 1035281.

Davis, K. D., Marrs, S. A., Williams, I., Zimmerman, K., Coogle, C. L., Ansello, E. F., Parsons, P. L., Slattum, P. W., & Waters, L. H. (2023). An interprofessional geriatrics faculty development program: Exploration of the barriers and facilitators of capstone projects. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, 2023, 1-15.

Fields, N., Xu, L., Williams, I. C., Gaugler, J., Cipher, D., Cassidy, J., & Feinhals, G. (2023). The Senior Companion Program Plus: An innovative training approach for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. Healthcare, 11(13), 1966.

Rogers, C. C., Jang, S. S., Tidwell, W., Shaughnessy, S., Milburn, J., Hauck, F. R., Williams, I.,... & Valdez, R. S. (2023). Designing mobile health to align with the social determinants of health. Frontiers in Digital Health, 5(2023), 1193920.

Robinson, R., Liday, C., Lee, S., Williams, I. C., Wright, M., An, S., & Nguyen, E. (2023). Artificial Intelligence in Health Care—Understanding Patient Information Needs and Designing Comprehensible Transparency: Qualitative Study. JMIR AI, 2(2023), 46487.

Formanack, A., Doshi, A., Valdez, R., Williams, I., Moorman, J. R., & Chernyavskiy, P. (2023). Race, Class, and Place Modify Mortality Rates for the Leading Causes of Death in the United States, 1999–2021. Journal of general internal medicine, 1-9, 0.

Xu, L., Fields, N. L., Williams, I. C., Gaugler, J. E., Kunz-Lomelin, A., Cipher, D. J., & Feinhals, G. (2023). The Senior Companion Program Plus. International journal of environmental research and public health, 20(7), 5380.

Campbell, C. L., Williams, I. C., & Campbell, L. C. (2023). Church Matters: Education About Advance Care Planning and End-of-Life Care in Black Churches. Family & Community Health, 46(3), 176-180.

Mattos, M. K., Gibson, J. S., Wilson, D., Jepson, L., Ahn, S., & Williams, I. C. (2023). Shared decision-making in persons living with dementia: A scoping review. Dementia (London, England), 22(4), 875-909.

Weise, L., Abel, K., Park, J. Y., & Williams, I. (2022). Perceptions about discrimination in a rural, older, racially and ethnically diverse older cohort. Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care, 22(2), 3-28.

Gallagher, V., Reilly, S., Williams, I., Mattos, M. K., & Manning, C. (2022). Patterns of sleep disturbances across stages of cognitive decline. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 38(1), 1-11.

Ejem, D., Atkins, G. C., Perkins, M., Morhardt, D. J., Williams, I. C., ... & Clay, O. J. (2022). Stressors and acceptability of services among Black caregivers of persons with memory problems. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 48(6), 13-18.

Anderson, J. G., Jabson Tree, J. M., Flatt, J. D., Gross, A. L., Williams, I. C., & Rose, K. M. (2022). A comparative analysis of family quality of life between heterosexual and sexual minority caregivers of people with dementia. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 41(6), 1576-1584.

Wiese, L. K., Williams, I., Williams, C. L., & Galvin, J. E. (2021). Discerning rural Appalachian stakeholder attitudes toward memory screening. Aging & Mental Health, 25(5), 797-806.

Wiese, L. K., Williams, I. C., Schoenberg, N. E., Galvin, J. E., & Lingler, J. (2021). Overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic for dementia research: Engaging rural, older, racially and ethnically diverse church attendees in remote recruitment, intervention, and assessment. Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine, 7, 1-9.

Williams, I. C. (2021). Inclusive aging research within the context of social determinants of health. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 40(2), 119-120.

Williams, I. C., & Mattos, M. K. (2021). We’re still here: Addressing the diverse healthcare needs of older adults in rural areas. Public Policy & Aging Report, 31(4), 126-128.

Lee., M., Ryoo, J., Crowder, J., Byon, H., & Williams, I. (2020). A systematic review and meta-analysis on effective interventions for health-related quality of life among caregivers of people with dementia. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 76(2), 475-489.

Lee, M., Ryoo, J., Hollen, P., Campbell, C., & Williams, I. (2020). The impact of performing medical/nursing tasks at home among caregivers of individuals with cognitive impairment. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 39(11), 1203-1212.

Lee, M., Ryoo, J. H., Chung, M., Anderson, J. G., Rose, K., & Williams, I. C. (2020). Effective interventions for depressive symptoms among caregivers of people with dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Dementia, 19(7), 2368-2398.

Epps, F., & Williams, I. (2020). The importance of religiosity to the well-being of African American older adults living with dementia. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 39(5), 509-518.

Scott, C., Clay, O. J., Epps, F., Cothran, F., & Williams, I. (2020). Associations of knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss and employment status with burden in African American and Caucasian family caregivers. Dementia, 19(3), 847-860.

Williams, I., Clay, O., Orvalle, F., & Crow, M. (2020). The role of perceived discrimination and other psychosocial factors in explaining diabetes distress among older African American and Caucasian adults. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 39(1), 99-104.

Lee, M., Ryoo, J. H., Campbell, C., Hollen, P. J., & Williams, I. C. (2019). Exploring the challenges of medical/nursing tasks in home care experienced by caregivers of older adults with dementia: An integrative review. Journal of clinical nursing, 28(XXIII-XIV), 4177-4189.

McCants, K., Reid, K. B., Williams, I., Miller, D. E., Rubin, R., Dutton, S. (2019). The impact of case management on reducing readmission for patients diagnosed with heart failure and diabetes. Professional Case Management, 24(4), 177-193.

Williams, I. C. & Anderson, W. A. (2018). Personal growth attributed by nursing students to a diversity class. Nursing Education Perspectives, 39(4), 235-237.

Moss, K. O., Deutsch, N., Hollen, P., Rovnyak, V., Williams, I., & Rose, K. (2018). End-of-life plans for African American older adults with dementia. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 35(10), 1314-1322.

Moss, K. O., Deutsch, N., Hollen, P., Rovnyak, V., Williams, I., & Rose, K. (2018). Understanding end-of-life terminology among older African Americans. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 44(2), 33-40.

Valdez, R., Guterbock, T. M., Fitzgibbon, K., Williams, I. C., Wellbeloved-Stone, C., Bears, J., & Menefee, H. (2017). From loquacious to reticent: Understanding patient health information communication to guide consumer health IT design. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 24(4), 680-696.

Williams, I. C., Park, M., Tsang, S., Sperling, S. & Manning, C. (2017). Cognitive function and vascular risk factors among older African American adults. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 0, 1-7.

Sperling, S., Tsang, S., Williams, I. C., Helenius, I., & Manning, C. (2017). Subjective memory change, mood, and cerebrovascular risk factors in older African Americans. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 30(6), 324-330.

Tsang, S., Sperling, S., Williams, I. C., & Manning, C. (2017). Blood pressure variability and cognitive functioning among older African American adults. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 30(3), 90-97.

Brunk, D.R., Taylor, A.G., Clark, M.L., Williams, I.C., & Cox, D.J. (2015). A culturally appropriate self-management program for Hispanic adults with type 2 diabetes and low health literacy skills. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 2015, 1-8.

Kim, H., Rose, K., Netemeyer, R., Merwin, E., & Williams, I. (2014). A secondary data analysis of Internet use for caregivers of persons with dementia. Nursing Open, 1(1), 15-22.

Valdez, R. S., Guterbock, T. M., Thompson, M. J., Reilly, J. D., Menefee, H. K., Bennici, M. S., Williams, I. C., & Rexrode, D. L. (2014). Beyond traditional advertisements: Leveraging Facebook’s social structures for research recruitment. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16(10), e243.

Cary, M., Merwin, E., Oliver, N., & Williams, I. (2014). Inpatient rehabilitation outcomes in a national sample of Medicare beneficiaries with hip fracture. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 33, 1-22.

Williams, I. C., Utz, S. W., Hinton, I., Yan, G., Jones, R., & Reid, K. (2014). Enhancing diabetes self-care among rural African Americans with diabetes: Results of a two-year culturally tailored intervention. The Diabetes Educator, 40(2), 231-239.

Moss, K. S. & Williams, I. C. (2014). End-of-life preferences in Afro-Caribbean older adults: A systematic review of the literature. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 69(3), 271-282.

Fahs, P. S., Pribulick, M., Williams, I. C., James, G. D., Rovynak, V. G., Seibold-Simpson, S. M. (2013). Promoting heart health in rural women. Journal of Rural Health, 29(3), 248-257.

Rose, K., & Williams, I.C. (2011). Family matters: Family quality of life in dementia. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 37(6), 3-4.

Williams, I. C., Utz, S. W., Jones, R., Hinton, I., Steeves, R., & Alexander, G. (2011). Recruitment of rural African Americans for research projects: Lessons learned. Southern Online Journal of Nursing Research, 11(1), Retrieved from

Williams, I., Rose, K. (2010). Family quality of life in dementia: Preliminary results. The Gerontologist, 50, 1-232.

Williams, I., Utz, S., Jones, R.A., Hinton, I., Steeves, R., & Alexander, G. (2010). Recruitment of rural African Americans for research projects: Lessons learned. Southern Online Journal of Nursing Research, 11(1), 1-17.

Campbell, C., Williams, I.C., & Orr, T. (2010). Factors that impact end-of-life decision making in African Americans with advanced cancer. The Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 12(4), 214-224.

Stern, S., Merwin, E., Hauenstein, E., Hinton, I., Rovnyak, V., Wilson, M., Williams, I. & Mahone, I.H. (2010). The effects of rurality on mental and physical health. Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology, 10(1), 33-66.

Jones, R.A., Steeves, R., & Williams, I. (2010). Family and friend interactions among African American men deciding whether to have a prostate cancer screening. Urologic Nursing, 30(3), 189-194.

Hinton,I., Howell, J., Merwin,E., Stern, S., Turner, S., Williams, I., and Wilson, M. (2010). The educational pipeline for health care professionals: Understanding the source of racial differences. Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 45, No.1, p. 116-156.

Jones, R.A., Steeves, R. & Williams, I. (2009). Strategies for recruiting African American men into prostate cancer screening studies. Nursing Research, 58(6), 452-456.

Jones, R.A., Steeves, R., & Williams, I. (2009). How African American men decide whether or not to get prostate cancer screening. Cancer Nursing, 32(2), 166-172.

Utz, S.W., Williams, I.C., Jones, R., Hinton, I., Alexander, G., Yan. G., Moore, C., Blankenship, J., Steeves, R. & Oliver, M.N. (2008). Culturally-tailored intervention for rural African Americans with type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Educator, 34(5), 854-865.

Alexander, G.K., Utz, S.W., Hinton, I., Williams, I., & Jones, R. (2008). Culture brokerage strategies in diabetes education. Public Health Nursing, 25(5), 461-470.

Book Sections

Williams, I. C., Epps, F., & Lee, M. (2020). Caregiving. In J. Giddens (Ed.), Concepts in nursing (3rd ed., pp. 0). Mosby Elsevier.

Williams, I. C. (2020). Diversity in health and illness. In E. E. Friberg (Ed.), Conceptual foundations: The bridge to professional nursing practice (7th ed., pp. 238-251). Elsevier, Inc.

Williams, I. C., Williams, D. J., Pelligrino, A., & Warren, J. C. (2012). Providing mental health services for racial, ethnic, and sexual orientation minority groups in rural areas. In B. Smalley, J.C. Warren, & J. Rainer (Eds.), Rural Mental Health (pp. 233-257). Springer Publishing Co.

Columns, Editorials and Op-Eds

Williams, I. (2019, Sping). Was I ready to talk race: Belonging. Virginia Nursing Legacy Magazine. Retrieved from

Williams, I. C. (2019, June 12). There is a huge disparity in diagnosing Alzheimer’s in Black Americans. The Hill. .