A photo of Lisa M. Vaughn.

Lisa M. Vaughn, PhD

  • Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



I am a formally trained social psychologist with more than 20 years of experience in applied social science research and community engagement.

While living and working in Guatemala with Mayan women and girls over five years, I realized that top-down research solutions will not work in terms of impact and social change. As a result, I shifted my approach from research on or about people to research with people. Since then, I’ve specialized in participatory, stakeholder-engaged and patient- and family-centered research.

My broad research interests include community-based participatory research (CBPR), improving healthcare among Latinx immigrant families, stress and resilience associated with social and cultural determinants of health and well-being, qualitative and participatory research methodologies that can be applied in clinical settings, such as the emergency department. These methods include group-level assessment, concept mapping and photovoice.

I seek to understand health disparities among immigrant and minority families, and vulnerable youth, so we can increase health equity. I also focus on understanding and utilizing patient and family perspectives to improve healthcare and public health issues.

Research projects I’ve conducted include:

  • Suicide screening and language barriers in the pediatric emergency department
  • Parent or caregiver disparities in pediatric surgical cancelations (2017)
  • Latino immigrant perspectives on healthcare utilization and barriers to care (2012)
  • Family perspectives on tobacco screening and counseling in the pediatric emergency department (2014)
  • Parent perspectives on frequent attendance in the pediatric primary care clinic (2011)
  • Safe sleep messaging (2019)
  • Stakeholder perspectives on a broad range of topics, including quality improvement education, personal health record data, hospital monitors, literacy programs, cognitive behavior therapy for migraines, traumatic brain injury, obesity screening, sickle cell disease and newborn hearing screening

I have methodological expertise on the process of partnering with youth, community members and stakeholders in research using participatory and qualitative approaches. I’ve published widely on this topic. My contributions to the literature include more than 100 referred manuscripts, four books and 16 book chapters.

In addition to conducting and publishing research, I’ve advanced the field of community research and action by serving on three editorial boards, co-edited a new journal (The Journal of Participatory Research Methods), and taught the only CBPR class available in the Cincinnati region. I’ve also trained national and international students and faculty in community-engaged approaches to research. For example, I’m co-director of Applying Collaborative Research Methodology, an annual course taught at Chalmers University in Gothenberg, Sweden.

In 2009, while working at Cincinnati Children’s, I began a joint appointment at the University of Cincinnati College of Education – Criminal Justice and Human Services. I advise doctoral students in the Educational Studies Community-Based Action Research PhD program and teach advanced action research-related seminars.

I helped establish Latinos Unidos por la Salud (LU-Salud) in 2013, a community research team composed of Latinx immigrant co-researchers. Together, we’ve built a long-term partnership and conducted a progressive series of studies to understand and address Latino health and well-being in Cincinnati.

In collaboration with the Cincinnati Children’s Division of Emergency Medicine in 2013, I also developed a youth advisory and research council called the Youth Council for Suicide Prevention (YCSP). The YCSP comprises more than 25 local high school students from 11 different schools. By working with researchers to improve suicide screening in the pediatric emergency department, these students are empowered to become leaders in suicide prevention.

BS: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN, 1993.

MA: University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, 1996.

PhD: University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, 1997.

MEd: University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, 2008.

International Honors Program in Psychology: University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel, 1992.

Fellowship: Medical Education Research, Association of American Medical Colleges, Group on Educational Affairs, 1999.

Licensure: Licensed Professional Counselor

Research Areas

Emergency Medicine


Decision Support Needs for Transgender and Gender-Diverse Youth and Families: A Patient-Centered Needs Assessment. Mazzola, A; Vaughn, LM; Chelvakumar, G; Conard, LA E; Fortenberry, DJ; Voss, RV; Lipstein, EA. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2022.

Facilitating health promoting ideas and actions: participatory research in an underserved Swedish residential area. Magnusson, M; Vaughn, LM; Wretlind, K; Forslund, HB; Berg, C. BMC Public Health. 2022; 22.

A scoping review of youth advisory structures in the United States: Applications, outcomes, and best practices. Haddad, K; Jacquez, F; Vaughn, L. American Journal of Community Psychology. 2022; 70:493-508.

Perceptions and experiences of Latinx parents with language barriers in a pediatric emergency department: a qualitative study. Zamor, RL; Vaughn, LM; McCann, E; Sanchez, L; Page, EM; Mahabee-Gittens, EM. BMC Health Services Research. 2022; 22.

Exploring Parental Perceptions of Early Childhood Education Among Spanish-Speaking Latinx Families. Rabin, J; Vaughn, L; Trott, C; Jacquez, F. Early Childhood Education Journal. 2022; 1-16.

Latino-to-Latino: Promotores' Beliefs on Engaging Latino Participants in Autism Research. Burkett, K; Kamimura-Nishimura, KI; Suarez-Cano, G; Ferreira-Corso, L; Jacquez, F; Vaughn, LM. Journal of racial and ethnic health disparities. 2022; 9:1125-1134.

Application of a Child Sex Trafficking Screening Tool in Patients with Abuse: A Retrospective Chart Review in the Pediatric Emergency Department. Ellis, AS; Brown, AM; Martini, AI; Page, E; Lin, L; Vaughn, LM. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 2022; 36:330-338.

A Guide to Selecting Participatory Research Methods Based on Project and Partnership Goals. Duea, SR; Zimmerman, EB; Vaughn, LM; Dias, S; Harris, J. Journal of participatory research methods. 2022; 3.

Providers' Perspectives on Decision-Making About Care for Transgender Youth. Terrizzi, BF; Lambert, AS; Conard, LA E; Vaughn, LM; Lipstein, EL. 2022.

Group Level Assessment (GLA) as a methodological tool to facilitate science education. Vaughn, LM; Jacquez, F; Deters, A; Boards, A. Research in Science Education. 2022; 52:539-551.