Deborah K. Padgett

Professor of Social Work and Global Public Health; McSilver Faculty Fellow
(212) 998-5985

Areas of Expertise

Homeless adults with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders; qualitative and mixed methods; mental health services research; cancer prevention and control


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 internationally known for her mentorship and advocacy 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 (2016, 3nd ed.) and Qualitative and Mixed Methods in Public Health (2012), and co-author of Program Evaluation (6th ed., 2015). This expertise led to the appointment to an Institute of Medicine panel examining veterans’ mental health (2012-2017).

Dr. Padgett’s book Housing First: Ending Homelessness, Changing Systems and Transforming Lives (2016, Oxford University Press) (with co-authors Benjamin Henwood and Sam Tsemberis) documents the rise of a ‘paradigm’ shifting approach to addressing homelessness in the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Padgett has lectured widely on the topic in Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Canada and India.

Dr. Padgett has been co-principal investigator on several 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. 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 second, The New York Recovery Study (2010-2015; $1.9 million) used ethnographic methods to examine the role of housing in mental health recovery among formerly homeless adults. Her recent ethnographic research on homeless ‘pavement dwellers’ in Delhi, India is an extension of this interest in homelessness to cross-cultural contexts.

Dr. Padgett received the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award (2012) and was Director of the PhD program in Global Public Health (2014-2016). She was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) in 2011 and a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) in 2013. She has been active in SSWR since its inception and served as a board member (2002-2007) and President (2004-2006). In 2006, SSWR announced the Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Fellowship in recognition of her contributions.