Sharon Williams, PhD

SHS_Williams.jpgAssociate Professor
Phone: (919 -966-9462
Fax: (919) 966-0100
CARD Website:


  • PhD, in Human Development and Family Studies
  • MS, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • BS, East Carolina University

Personal Statement

Dr. Sharon Wallace Williams joined the Division's Faculty in the Fall of 2003. She is currently an associate professor within the Division and also holds a senior research scientist appointment with UNC's Institute on Aging and is the program lead for the Institute's Aging and Diversity Program. Her research focuses on aging, family functioning and processes in caregiving families, and end of life communication within families and with health care providers. She received a BS and MS in Communication Disorders and a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies. She also completed a gerontology postdoctoral fellowship at The Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Current research projects include the 'Stroke Telemedicine Acess Recovery (STAR) Project' with colleagues in The School of Medicine. The project focuses on rehabilitation, secondary prevention, and family functioning of community-dwelling white, African American, and American Indian stroke survivors. Additional funding from UNC's Translational and Clinical Sciences (TraCS) Institute expanded the family caregiving component of STAR to examine the cognitive and language limitations of stroke survivors and relationships, if any, with the caregiver's emotional health.

Her work has been funded by the National Institute on Aging, The Duke Endowment, UNC's Centers on Aging and Diversity and Aging and Health, the Ethnicity Culture and Health Outcomes Program, and UNC's Translational and Clinical Sciences (TraCS) Institute. Findings from her research have appeared in The Journals of Gerontology, the Gerontologist, Aging and Mental Health, and the Journal of Palliative Medicine.

Courses Taught

  • SPHS 840 Aging and Communication Disorders
  • SPHS 834 Counseling for Individuals with Communication Disorders and their Families

Recent Publications

Williams, S. W., Zimmerman, S, Williams, C.S. (2012). Family Caregiver Involvement for Long-Term Care Residents at the End of Life.  Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 67, S595- S604.

Emmett, C.P., Dobbs, D., Williams, S. & Daaleman, T.P. (2011).  Peace With My  Maker: Voices of Seriously Ill African American Elders Regarding Advance Care Planning.  Qualitative Inquiry, 17, 119-125.

Gregory, P., Edwards, L., Faurot, K., Williams, S.W., & Felix, A. C.G.  (2010). Patient Preferences for Stroke Rehabilitation. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, 17, 394-400.

Williams, S.W., Williams, C.S., Zimmerman, S., Munn, J., Dobbs, D., & Sloane, P.D. (2008).  Emotional and physical health of informal caregivers of residents at the end of life: The role of social support.  Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 63, S171-S183.

Hanson, L.C., Dobbs, D., Usher, B., Williams, S., Rawlings, J., & Daaleman, T. P. (2008).  Providers and types of spiritual care experienced during serious illness. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 11, 907-914.

Williams, S.W., Rurka, J., Desai, T., & Mutran, E.J.  (2008).  Predictors of satisfaction for African American and White family caregivers of assisted living residents.  Journal of Applied Gerontology, 27, 568-587.

Daaleman, T.P., Usher, B., Williams, S., Rawlings, J., & Hanson, L.C.  (2008).  Spiritual care at the end of life:  An exploratory study of the health provider perspective.  Annals of Family Medicine, 6, 406-411.

Williams, S.W., Hanson, L.C., Boyd, C., Green, M., Goldmon, M, Wright, G. & Corbie-Smith, G. (2008). Communication, decision making and cancer: What African Americans want physicians to know. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 11, 1221-1226.

Daaleman, T.P., Emmett, C., Dobbs, D., & Williams, S. W. (2008).  An exploratory study of advance care planning in seriously ill African American elders.  Journal of the National Medical Association, 100, 1457-1462.

Biola, H., Sloane, P. D., Williams, C. S., Daaleman, T. P., Williams, S. W., & Zimmerman, S.  (2007).  Physician communication with family members of long-term care residents at the end of life.  Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 55, 846-856.


DiBari, M., Suggs, P.K., Holmes, L.P., Williams, S.W., Pahor, M. & Jackson, S.  (2007).  Research partnership with underserved African-American communities to improve the health of older persons with disability: a pilot qualitative study.  Aging Clinical Experimental Research, 19, 110-118.

Book Chapters

Goodwin, P. Y., Williams, S. W., & Dilworth-Anderson, P. (2006). The role of resources in the emotional health of African American women: Rural and urban comparisons. In R. T. Coward, L.A. Davis, C.H. Gold, H. Smiciklas-Wright, L.E. Thorndyke, & F.W. Vondracek, (Eds.). Rural women's health: Mental, behavioral, and physical issues (pp. 179 - 196). New York: Springer.

Williams, S.W. & Dilworth-Anderson, P. (2005). Chronic disease and African American families. In D.R. Crane & E.S. Marshall (Eds.). Handbook of Families and Health: Interdisciplinary Perspective (pp. 81-95). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.

Dilworth-Anderson, P., & Williams, S.W. (2004). Caregiver stress. In N. Anderson (Ed.). The Encyclopedia of Health and Behavior (pp.158-162). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Dilworth-Anderson, P., & Williams, S.W. Caregiver stress. (2004) In N. Anderson (Ed.). The Encyclopedia of Health and Behavior. Sage Publications.

Recent Funding


Principal Investigator

‘Stroke Telemedicine Access Recovery (STAR) Project’

Duke Endowment $349,995



‘The Lower Ischemic Future Event Risk (LIFER) Study’

Pfizer foundation $189,778


Principal Investigator

‘A Tri-racial Examination of Family Caregivers of Stroke Survivors’

North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (TraCS)

Large Pilot Grant Award




‘Stroke Telemedicine Access Recovery (STAR) Project’

Duke Endowment (Patricia Gregory, PI)




‘Social Constructions of Cultural Meanings and Reasons

for Caregiving in African American Families’

Research Study within  Shaw University’s

M-RISP Minority Elderly Research Center (SUMMER).

DHHS Agency for Health Research and Quality.  Dann Howard (PI).



Principal Investigator

"African American Families and End of Life Disparities."


$50,000 per year for 2 years


Grant Faculty

“Preparation of Pediatric Audiologists to Serve Infants,

Toddlers and School-Age Children with Hearing Loss”

Department of Education Training Grant. Jackson Roush (PI)



Principal Investigator

Pilot Investigator Award

‘Modification and Expansion of Current Pilot: Stroke Disparities:

Conceptualizing Disease Management at the Family Level’

Center for Aging and Diversity/ Institute on Aging

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill