Ishan Williams – 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

  • 2016 Pacesetter Award, UNC Greensboro
  • 2016 Southern Gerontological Society’s annual Applied Gerontologist Award
  • 2016 UVA Nursing Faculty Leadership Award

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.


Journal Articles

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. doi:10.1111/jan.14262

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. doi:10.1177/0733464819879014

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. doi:10.1177/1471301218822640

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. doi:10.1177/0733464818820773

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. doi:10.1177/1471301218788147

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. doi:10.1177/0733464817750273

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. doi:10.1111/jocn.15007

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. doi:10.1097/ncm.0000000000000359

Williams, I. C. & Anderson, W. A. (2018). Personal growth attributed by nursing students to a diversity class. Nursing Education Perspectives, 39(4), 235-237. doi:10.1097/01.NEP.0000000000000266

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. doi:10.1177/1049909118761094

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. doi:10.3928/00989134-20171002-02

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. doi:10.1093/jamia/ocw155

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. doi:10.1007/s10903-017-0583-7

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. doi:10.1177/0891988717732153

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. doi:10.1097/wnn.0000000000000128

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. doi:10.1177/1043659615613418

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. doi:10.1002/nop2.2

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. doi:10.2196/jmir.3786

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. doi:10.1177/0733464814541325

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. doi:10.1177/0145721713520570

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. doi:10.2190/OM.69.3.c

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. doi:10.1111/j.1748-0361.2012.00442.x

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. doi:10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181982c6e

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. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1446.2008.00730.x

Book Sections

Williams, I. C., Epps, F., & Lee, M. (2020). Caregiving. In J. Giddens (Eds.), Concepts in nursing (3rd ed.) (pp. 0). St. Louis: 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). St. Louis, MO: 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). New York: 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. Retrieved from https://thehill. com/opinion/healthcare/448240-there-is-a-huge-disparity-in-diagnosing-alzheimers-in-black-americans.