As a social demographer, my research lies at the intersection of health, families, and aging. I focus on the development and consequences of ill-health—with attention to variations by marital status, gender, and race/ethnicity, and among vulnerable populations. My work is interdisciplinary—cutting across sociology, gerontology, human development, and health services.
I am currently engaged in two primary streams of inquiry on health and disability among midlife and older adults. The first focuses on the social context of disablement. In this work, I situate the psychosocial consequences of physical disability within older adults’ interpersonal social relationships, with specific attention to marriage and gender. Although there is a large literature linking marriage with better health, we know less about how marital resources operate once individuals develop health challenges. As more individuals enter later life never- or formerly-married—and thus marriage becomes more selective—understanding how marriage serves to differentiate health experiences is of increasing importance. I draw on life course and stress process perspectives to understand how functional limitations affect the quality of social relationships, and how those relationships buffer the psychosocial effects of functional impairments. I focus specifically on loneliness, an important public health measure that predicts declines in self-rated health and cognition, health services use, and even mortality.
My second stream of research is concerned with the development and consequences of multimorbidity, which is the co-occurrence of chronic health conditions, functional limitations, and other age-related conditions outside the traditional disease paradigm. As part of a multidisciplinary research team with colleagues from several other institutions, I am using Medicare Claims data linked to the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to examine how such complex clinical presentations affect older adults’ perceptions of their health and their healthcare use, particularly among vulnerable populations (e.g., individuals with cognitive impairment, cancer survivors, racial/ethnic minorities). We are investigating how older adults present with multiple chronic diseases and multiple functional limitations, and how chronic diseases and functional limitations also co-occur with what the medical/health services disciplines refer to as “geriatric syndromes”—other common age-graded conditions (e.g., vision impairment, cognitive impairment) that are outside of the traditional disease paradigm. Geriatric syndromes are significant because they present situational challenges that make navigating the physical and social world difficult. Although scholars have recognized the importance of comorbidity (having two chronic diseases), research and clinical practice remains organized largely around a “one-disease-at-a-time” approach, or considers multimorbidity only in terms of having three or more chronic diseases—rather than to be attuned to the specific combinations of chronic diseases and other conditions that may exacerbate the effect of chronic diseases.
In addition to these two streams of research, I am branching into new areas of research via collaboration. For example, I am involved in a research team bridging scholarship in family sociology, criminology, human development, and health to investigate how youth violent victimization shapes union formation and other family behaviors, and the subsequent consequences thereof for well-being in adulthood.
My research uses existing large-scale and longitudinal datasets (i.e., “secondary” data). I am seeking students interested in using these types of data to understand the development and consequences of ill-health, especially among older adults. Students with strong quantitative and programming skills (or a desire to learn!) are especially welcome.
I teach Families and Society (SOCI 226), Working Class Families (SOCI 398), Population Dynamics (SOCI 444/844), and the graduate seminar Families and the Life Course (SOCI 904). I also regularly offer the required graduate Research Methods course (SOCI 863).
Social Context of Disablement
Warner, David F., Scott A. Adams, and Raeda K. Anderson*. In Press. “The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent: Social Support Constellations, Physical Disability, and Changes in Loneliness among Married and Unmarried Older Adults.” Journal of Aging and Health.
Warner, David F. and Scott A. Adams*. 2016. “Physical Disability and Increased Loneliness among Married Older Adults: The Role of Changing Social Relations.” Society & Mental Health, 6 (2): 106-128
Development and Consequences of Multimorbidity
Warner, David F., Nicholas K. Schiltz, Kurt Stange, Charles W. Given, Cynthia Owusu, Nathan A. Berger, and Siran M. Koroukian. 2017. “Complex Multimorbidity and Health Outcomes in Older Cancer Survivors.” Family Medicine and Community Health, 5 (2): 129-138
Koroukian, Siran M., David F. Warner, Cynthia Owusu, and Bill Given. 2015. “Multimorbidity Redefined: Prospective Health Outcomes and the Cumulative Effect of Co-Occurring Conditions.” Preventing Chronic Disease, 12: 140478.
Life Course Consequences of Youth Violent Victimization
Warner, Tara D., David F. Warner, and Danielle C. Kuhl. 2017. “Cut to the Quick: The Consequences of Youth Violent Victimization for the Timing of Dating Debut and First Union Formation.” American Sociological Review, 82(6): 1241-1271.
Kuhl, Danielle C., David F. Warner, and Tara D. Warner. 2015. “Intimate Partner Violence Risk among Victims of Youth Violence: Are Early Unions Bad, Beneficial, or Benign?” Criminology, 53:427-456 [Authors listed alphabetically and made equal contributions]
* Indicates graduate student co-author
Recent Grant Activity
2017-2019. Principal Investigator. “Disabled and Out? Social Interaction Barriers and Mental Health among Older Adults with Physical Disabilities.” National Science FoundationDoctoral Dissertation Research Grant for R.K. Anderson [DDRI 1702959].Total Costs: $11,999
2014-2016. Co-Investigator. “Combinations of Chronic Conditions Determining Clinical Relevance & Resource Use” [1 R21 HS023113-01]. Total Costs: $7,573 (Subaward)
I previously served as the Listserv Editor for the American Sociological Association Section on Aging & the Life Course (2010-2016). I am currently on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Society & Mental Health, and Research on Aging.