Duke University 1972
Professor, Social and Health Psychology
Office Hours: Flexible, by appointment
Phone Number: (631) 632-7829
Areas of Interest:
Dr. Wortman is an expert on grief and bereavement, with special emphasis on how people are affected by the sudden, traumatic death of a loved one. She received the Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution in Psychology from the American Psychological Association for this work. She is also interested in the long-term sequelae of traumatic grief, and in the development of effective mental health interventions for those who have experienced such a loss.
After receiving her Ph.D. from Duke University in 1972, Dr. Wortman was a member of the faculty at Northwestern University for approximately five years. She then joined the faculty at the University of Michigan, where she remained for nearly a decade. She moved to Stony Brook in 1990 to serve as the director of the Social and Health Psychology Graduate Training Program. Her research on grief has been funded both by federal agencies (the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute on Aging), and private foundations (the MacArthur Foundation, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
Dr. Wortman has completed two large-scale prospective studies on conjugal loss, one of which includes psychological, physiological and cognitive measures. She has recently completed a book, Late Life Widowhood in the United States, which focuses on this work. She has also conducted several studies on how people react to the sudden, unexpected loss of a spouse or child. Her research demonstrates that compared to control respondents, those who experience the sudden, traumatic death of a spouse or child show enduring difficulties in many areas of their lives. On the basis of these studies, Dr. Wortman received an award from the Science Directorate at the American Psychological Association and the National Science Foundation. This award was designed to recognize the achievements of women in science.
Following the September 11 catastrophe, Dr. Wortman was invited to develop material on trauma and grief for several websites, including the American Psychological Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. She was asked to provide training for counselors at three universities to assist them in treating clients who lost loved ones in the catastrophe. She was also invited by Trial Lawyers Care to coauthor a position paper on the long-term effects of experiencing the sudden, traumatic loss of a loved one. This paper was utilized by Special Master Kenneth Feinberg in determining awards for those who lost loved ones on September 11. In recognition of this work, Dr. Wortman received a service award from Trial Lawyers Care “for providing assistance to families who lost loved ones in the attacks of September 11, 2001.” Currently, Dr. Wortman is collaborating with Laurie Anne Pearlman and Therese Rando on a book for clinicians entitled Treatment for Survivors of Sudden, Traumatic Loss, which will be published by Guilford Press.
Pearlman, L. A., Wortman, C. B., Feuer, C., Farber, C., & Rando, T. (in press). Traumatic bereavement: A practitioner’s guide. New York: Guilford Press.
Carr, D., Nesse, R., & Wortman, C. B. (2006). Spousal bereavement in late life. New York: Springer.
Wortman, C. B., Pearlman, L., Feuer, C., Farber, C., & Rando,T. (in press). Traumatic bereavement. In C. Figley (Ed.), Encyclopedia of trauma. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Wortman, C. B., & Boerner, K. (2011). The myths of coping with loss: What the scientific evidence tells us. In H. Friedman (Ed.), Oxford handbook of health psychology (pp. 441- 479). New York: Oxford University Press.
Prigerson, H. G., Horowitz, M. J., Jacobs, S. C., Parkes, C. M., Asian, M., Goodkin, K., Raphael, B., Marwitt, S. J., Wortman, C., Neimeyer, R. A., Bonanno, G., Block, S. D., Kissane, D., Boelen, P., Maercker, A., Litz, B. T., Johnson, J. G., First, M. B., & Maciejewski, P. K. (2009). Prolonged grief disorder: Psychometric validation of criteria proposed for DSM- V and ICD-11, PLoS Med, 6(8), e100021.
Silver, R. C., & Wortman, C. B. (2007). The stage theory of grief. JAMA, 297(24), 2692.
Carnelley, K. B., Wortman, C. B., Bolger, N., & Burke, C. T. (2006). The time course of grief reactions to spousal loss: Evidence from a national probability sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 476-492.
Bonanno, G. A., Wortman, C. B., Lehman, D., Tweed, R., Sonnega, J., Carr, D., & Nesse, R. (2002). Resilience to loss and chronic grief: A prospective study from preloss to 18- months postloss. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1150-1164.
Wortman, C. B., & Silver, R. C. (1989). The myths of coping with loss. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 349-357.
Lehman, D. R., Wortman, C. B., & Williams, A. F. (1987). Long-term effects of losing a spouse or child in a motor vehicle crash. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 218-231.