Elaine Wethington


Elaine Wethington

G58 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Phone: (607) 255-2918 Fax: (607) 255-9856
Email: ew20@cornell.edu
View Cornell University Contact Info
Curriculum Vitae
Biographical Statement:

I am a medical sociologist, jointly appointed in the Department of Human Development and in the Department of Sociology. I study stress across the life course and how factors such as support from others may buffer the impact of stress on mental and physical health. I have been interested in this topic for most of my career because it is a way to "translate" basic scientific research into ways that can improve people's health.  I am currently working on projects relating to work and family stress in young families, the impact of life events on behavior that affects health, and  social support and partner relationships in aging families. 

Teaching and Advising Statement:

I teach basic and advanced undergraduate courses on gerontology, health disparities, and health and social behavior as well as advanced graduate courses on translational research methods. My courses also contribute to the Gerontology minor at Cornell University. I specialize in advising about careers in medicine, public health and related fields and provide research opportunities for students interested in aging and health.

Current Professional Activities:

Co-Principal Investigator and Pilot Study Director, Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (Edward. R. Roybal Center at Cornell; a Weill Cornell - Ithaca collaboration)

Editor-in-chief, Society and Mental Health

Member, American Sociological Association, Gerontological Society of America, and American Public Health Association

Current Research Activities:

I collaborate with colleagues at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research to develop projects that improve the  experience and treatment of pain among older adults.  I am also collaborating with faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College, the Division of Nutritional Sciences, and Applied Economics and Management on basic research and interventions to reduce obesity among low income working adults. I have recently begun a new project on marital quality and health among older adults.  My research has been funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of NIH,  Smith-Lever., and the Cornell Institute for the Social Sciences. 


A.B. 1972 - Indiana University, Bloomington, History

M.A. 1975 - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, History

Ph.D. 1987 - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Sociology

Courses Taught:

HD/SOC 2510, Aging and the LIfe Course: Introduction to Social Gerontology
HD3570/SOC3670, Social Inequalities in Physical and Mental Health
HD/SOC 4570, Health and Social Behavior
HD 6510, Seminar on Interdisciplinary Community-Based Scientific Research on Health Disparities

Related Websites:


Administrative Responsibilities:

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Human Development

Selected Publications:



Garner, Christine D., Stephanie L. Ratcliff, Loralei T. Thornburg, Elaine Wethington, Cynthia R. Howard, and Kathleen M. Rasmussen. Forthcoming. “Discontinuity of Breastfeeding Care: ‘There’s No Captain of the Ship.’” Breastfeeding Medicine.

Ong, Anthony, Bert Uchino, and Elaine Wethington. Forthcoming.  “Loneliness and Health in Older Adults: A Review and Synthesis.” Gerontology.

Eldridge, Johanna, Carol M. Devine, Elaine Wethington, Luz Aceves, Erica Phillips-Caesar, Brian Wansink, and Mary Charlson.  2016. “Environmental Influences on Small Eating Behavior Changes to Promote Weight Loss among Black and Hispanic Populations.” Appetite 96(1):129-137.

Winston, Ginger J., Erica G. Phillips, Elaine Wethington, Martin Wells, Carol M. Devine, Brian Wansink, Rosio Ramos, Janey Peterson, and Mary Charlson. 2015. “The Relationship between Social Network Body Size and the Body Size Norms of Black and Hispanic Adults.” Preventive Medicine Reports 2:941-945.

Winston, Ginger, Erica G. Phillips, Elaine Wethington, Carol M. Devine, Martin T. Wells, Janey C. Peterson, Jessica Hyppolyte, Rosio Ramos, Guillerma Martinez, Johanna Eldridge, and Mary Charlson. 2015. “Social Networks and Weight Loss: Evidence for Both Positive and Negative Influences.” Obesity 23: 1570-1576.

Phillips-Caesar, Erica, Brian Wansink, Ginger Winston, Carol M. Devine, Bala Kanna, Elaine Wethington, Walid Michelen, Martin T. Wells, James Hollenberg, Janey Peterson, and Mary Charlson.  2015. “Small Changes and Lasting Effects:  Rationale, Design, and Methods.” Contemporary Clinical Trials 41:118-128.

Cawley, John, Matthew Sweeney, Jeffery Sobal, Brian Wansink, David R. Just, Elaine Wethington, and William Schulze.  2015. “The Impact of a Supermarket Nutrition Rating System on Purchases of Nutritious and Less Nutritious Foods.”  Public Health Nutrition 18 (1): 8-14. doi: 10.1017/S1368980014001529.




Wethington, Elaine, Karen Glanz, and Marc D. Schwartz. 2015. “Stress, Coping and Health Behavior.” Pp. 223-242 in Health Behavior: Theory, Research, and Practice, 5th edition, edited by K. Glanz, B. K. Rimer, and K. Viswanath. San Francisco, CA:  John Wiley & Sons.

Wethington, Elaine and Louis D. Burgio.  2015. “Translational Research on Caregiving: Missing Links in the Translation Process.” In Family Caregiving in the New Normal: Meeting Future Challenges, edited by J. Gaugler and R. L. Kane.  Dordrecht, NE: Elsevier.

Wethington, Elaine and Karl Pillemer.  2014.  “Social Isolation among Older Adults.” Pp. 242-59 in Handbook of Solitude: Psychological Perspectives on Social Isolation, Social Withdrawal, and Being Alone, edited by R. J. Coplan and J. Bowker. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.



Loeckenhoff, Corinna E., Seth S. Laucks, Alexander D. Port, Judy Tung, Elaine Wethington, and M. Carrington Reid.  2013. “Temporal Horizons in Pain Management: Understanding the Perspectives of Physicians, Physical Therapists, and Their Middle Aged and Older Adult Patients.”  The Gerontologist 53:850-60. 


 Blake, Christine E., Elaine Wethington, Tracy J. Farrell, Carole A. Bisogni, and Carol M. Devine.  2011.  “Behavioral Contexts, Food Choice Coping Strategies, and Diet Quality of Employed Parents.”  Journal of the American Dietetic Association 111:401-407.



Wethington, Elaine and Rachel E. Dunifon.  2012.  Research for the Public Good. Washington, DC:  American Psychological Association Press.

Sutin, Angelina R., Paul T. Costa, Elaine Wethington, and William W. Eaton.  2010. “Turning Points and Lessons Learned: Stressful Life Events and Personality Trait Development across Middle Adulthood.” Psychology and Aging 25:524-33

Ganzel, Barbara, Pamela Morris, and Elaine Wethington.  2010.  “Allostasis and the Human Brain:  Integrating Models of Stress from the Social and Life Sciences.”  Psychological Review 117:134-74.

Sabir, Myra, Elaine Wethington, Risa Breckman, Rhoda Meador, M. Carrington Reid, and Karl Pillemer.  2009.  “A Community-Based Participatory Critique of Social Isolation Intervention Research for Community-Dwelling Older Adults.”  Journal of Applied Gerontology 28:218-234.

Evans, Gary W., Elaine Wethington, Meredith Coleman, Margo Worms, and Edward A. Frongillo. 2008. “Income Health Inequalities among Older Persons: The Mediating Role of Multiple Risk Exposures.” Journal of Aging and Health 20:107-25.

Wethington, Elaine, Risa Breckman, Rhoda Meador, Mark S. Lachs, M. Carrington Reid, Myra Sabir, and Karl A. Pillemer. 2007. “The CITRA Pilot Studies Program: Mentoring Translational Research.” The Gerontologist 47:845-50.

Selected Keywords:
Medical sociology, Gerontology, Sociology of mental health and illness, Translational research, Stress, Social support, Midlife, Human development

The information on this bio page is taken from the CHE Annual Report.