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Deborah K. Padgett
Professor of Social Work and Global Public Health; McSilver Faculty Fellow; Professor of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine
(212) 998-5985

Areas of Expertise

Homeless adults with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders; mental health; cross-cultural research on service use and barriers to care; cancer prevention and control; community-based models; and qualitative and mixed methods


Dr. Deborah Padgett has a doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and post-doctoral training in public health and psychiatric epidemiology at Columbia University and Duke University, respectively. She is nationally known for her advocacy and practice of qualitative and mixed methods in research. She is the editor of The Handbook of Ethnicity, Aging, and Mental Health (1995) and The Qualitative Research Experience (2004), author of Qualitative Methods in Social Work Research (2008, 2nd ed.) and Qualitative and Mixed Methods in Public Health (2012), and co-author of Program Evaluation (5th ed., 2009). Dr. Padgett has published extensively on mental health needs and service use of homeless mentally ill adults, older women, ethnic groups, and children/adolescents.

Before 2004, Dr. Padgett was co-principal investigator on two NIMH-funded grants and an NCI-funded mixed methods study of African-American women and breast cancer screening; she was also national co-director of the Screening Adherence Follow-up (SAFe) project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1997-2001). Beginning in 2004, she became principal investigator of two R01 qualitative methods studies funded by NIMH. The first, The New York Services Study (2004-2008), was a $1.4 million study of service engagement among dual diagnosed homeless adults in New York City. The NYSS was designed to elicit consumer perspectives on recovery and services for homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse. The second, The New York Recovery Study (2010-2015; $1.9 million) uses ethnographic methods and in-depth interviews to examine the role of housing in mental health recovery among formerly homeless adults.

Dr. Padgett’s international expertise in qualitative methods has led to invitations to speak at NIH-sponsored training institutes as well as to audiences in England, Germany, and India. Dr. Padgett has also been an active mentor of other researchers and has served on numerous journal editorial boards. Since 2006, she has taught courses on socio-behavioral health and qualitative/field methods in NYU’s Master’s of Public Health program, where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award (2010) and was interim director (2011-2012).

Dr. Padgett has been active in the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) since its inception and served as a board member (2002-2007) and president (2004-2006). She received an unprecedented honor in 2006 when SSWR announced the Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Fellowship in recognition of her contributions.  In 2012, she received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Silver School.