Outstanding Contributions by an Early Career Professional

Richard B. Slatcher, PhD

Richard B. Slatcher, PhD

Richard B. Slatcher, PhD, Wayne State University

I am delighted to present Dr. Richard Slatcher the SfHP’s 2016 award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology by an Early Career Professional. As my colleague in the Department of Psychology at Wayne State University in Detroit, Dr. Slatcher is highly deserving of this award.  He obtained his Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Texas at Austin, completed a 2-year post-doc at UCLA, and then joined our department in 2009.  He has been a “superstar” and was promoted and tenured early, reflecting his great productivity.

Dr. Slatcher’s research, which is grounded in basic relationship science, seeks to answer the question of how social relationships affect health, with an eye toward the biological mechanisms of these associations. He and his trainees have been investigating the links between self-disclosure, partner responsiveness, and health using daily diary methods and ecological momentary assessment. He has found that work stress negatively affects women’s stress biology among those who are either unhappy in their marriage or low in self-disclosure to their spouses. In a national prospective sample of couples, he found that partner responsiveness predicted healthier diurnal cortisol slopes after 10 years. Dr. Slatcher also co-authored a highly cited meta-analysis in Psychological Bulletin on the links between marital quality and health, and he has published the “Strength and Strain” model to clarify how marital quality can impact health.

Dr. Slatcher has also examined how marital relationships can impact the family environment and children’s health and well-being. Supported by an R01 grant from the NIH, he has studied the effects of family social environments on childhood asthma among youth in Detroit. He found that partner responsiveness positively impacts children’s health and well-being, and does so, in part, through better parenting. Dr. Slatcher also uses the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR), which is an acoustic event-sampling device, and which permits actually hearing what goes on when people are at home together. He has shown that conflict at home, as measured with the EAR, is linked to less healthy diurnal cortisol patterns in young children and to greater asthma wheezing. This research with families has led him to develop and test the “Thriving Families” theoretical model for understanding how positive social relationships at home lead to healthy outcomes in childhood and beyond.

Dr. Slatcher is very prolific, having published 46 articles and chapters, many in our leading journals. For example, he has 7 articles in our own Health Psychology. He also is on the editorial boards of six journals. But Dr. Slatcher has also made substantial contributions at home. He pulled together over 50 behavioral health researchers from across our university and secured nearly $1,000,000 in internal funding to form Wayne State’s RoBUST organization (Researchers of Biobehavioral Health in Urban Settings Today). RoBUST stimulates cross-disciplinary urban health research and will help our university become a leader in urban health psychology and related fields.

For these contributions both internationally and locally, I’m very pleased to present this award to Dr. Richard Slatcher.

Mark A. Lumley, PhD
Wayne State University