Sharon Williams, PhD

Associate Professor, Director of the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Phone: (919) 966-9462
Fax: (919) 966-0100 

Sharon Wallace WilliamsEmail:

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 associate professor and director of the division. As an audiologist with expertise in gerontology, she applies her training and expertise to the scholarship of older adults living with life-limiting illnesses and to death and dying processes and outcomes. Her research agenda focuses on:

1)    Older adults and their families who live with potentially life-limiting illnesses (i.e., stroke, dementia) 

2)    End-of-life (EOL) communication and advance care planning (ACP) within families and with health care providers; and

3)    Incorporation and education of EOL, palliative care, and ACP into training and education of communication disorders professionals and pre-professionals. 

Dr. Williams 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.

Her research projects have included the 'Stroke Telemedicine Access 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 also 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. Her research has been published in highly visible journals such as The Journals of Gerontology, The Gerontologist, Aging & 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
  • SPHS 824  Audiology Grand Rounds

Selected Publications

Bonner, G., Williams, S., Wilkie, D., Hart, A., Burnett, G., & Peacock, G (2016).  Trust Building Recruitment Strategies for Researchers Conducting Studies in African American Churches:  Lessons Learned.  American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.  DOI: 10.1177/1049909116666799

Cagle, J. G., LaMantia, M. A., Williams, S. W., Pek, J., & Edwards, L. J. (2016). Predictors of preference for hospice care among diverse older adults. The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care, 33, 574-584.

Haley, K. L., Womack, J. L., Harmon, T. G., & Williams, S. W. (2015). Visual analog rating of mood by people with aphasia. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, 22, 239-245.

Williams, S. W., & Harvey, I.S. (2013). Culture, Race, and SES: Application to End of Life Decision Making for African American Caregivers.  Perspectives on Gerontology, 18, 69-76.

Williams, S.W. & Hatch, P.  (2013). Conceptualizing a Pilot Study to Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) to Identify Goals of Care of Hospitalized Stroke Patients.  Aug-Communique, Volume 27, pg. 8-9.

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.

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. 

Selected Book Chapters

Dilworth-Anderson, P., Hilliard, T.S., Williams, S. & Palmer, M.H. (2011).   A contextual conceptualization on transitions of care for older persons: Shaping the direction of care.   In P. Dilworth-Anderson & M.H. Palmer (Eds.).   Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics: Pathways through the Transitions of Care for Older Adults, Volume 31, 1-14. 

Williams, S.W. (2011).  African American Families: Perspectives of Health” In M. Craft-Rosenberg & S. Pehler (Eds.).  Encyclopedia of Family Health.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication. 

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 (pp179 - 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


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)