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The UW School of Nursing has a national and international reputation for excellence. An unusually fertile environment for nursing research guides and shapes its baccalaureate and graduate educational programs. It also builds practice that emphasizes leadership skills for the health care needs of a multicultural world.


Box 357260
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Phone: 206-543-8736

Barbara Burns McGrath, RN, PhD
Research Associate Professor

Psychosocial & Community Health
Box 357263
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-7263

Email Address:
Barbara Burns McGrath is a nurse and medical anthropologist on the research faculty in the School of Nursing with adjunct appointments in the Departments of Anthropology, Women Studies, and Epidemiology. She is also on the faculty of the Institute of Public Health Genetics in the School of Public Health, and former director of the Gender Disparities Core of the Center for Women's Health and Gender Research. General research focus includes a description of cultural variation in response to illness; investigation of the influence of culture in the creation of meaning; examination of the role of science and technology in the health of populations; and the application of ethnographic inquiry methods in the study of health and illness.

Topical interests have included issues surrounding death and dying, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and the social and cultural implications of the Human Genome Project. Fieldwork in the Kingdom of Tonga has led to a program of research with the U.S. Pacific Island community in the Seattle area. Dr. McGrath was Principal Investigator of Project Talanoa, an NIH funded study developing a community based HIV prevention program with local Samoan and Tongan teenagers and adolescents. Current research is proposed to investigate the interplay of cultural meanings and family history of diabetes among U.S. Pacific Islanders.
  • • Research methods with an emphasis on qualitative methodologies
    • • Graduate seminar on social and cultural implications of genomics (PHG 521/NURS582/ANTH547)
Recent Research
  • Determining Content Validity of a Stage Model Behavior Change Instrument.
    Research and Intramural Funding Program, UW.

    • Pacific Island Youth Survey.
      Royalty Research Fund, UW.

      • National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Program. (Ethnographer).
        CDC, Public Health-Seattle & King County, State of Washington.

        • Center for Women’s Health and Gender Research. (Core Director)
          National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH.

          • Center for Health Disparities Research. (Co-Investigator)
            National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH.

            • Genetic Services Policies. (Co-Investigator)

              • Balancing Hope and Truth-telling for Patients with Cancer /COPD. (Co-Investigator).
                National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH.

                • Center for Genomics and Public Health. (Co-Investigator). CDC.

                  • HIV/AIDS Prevention and Pacific Islander Adolescents.
                    National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH.

                    • Improving Clinician-Family Communication in the ICU (Co-Investigator)
                      National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH.

                      • Assessing Genetic Knowledge and Attitudes in Two Populations.
                        Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health Intramural Research Program, UW.

                        • Taboo Talk: Investigating Ways to Study HIV/AIDS Risk Behavior with U.S. Pacific Island Adolescents.
                          School of Nursing, Intramural Research, UW.
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