Deborah Sellers
Deborah Sellers
Director of Research and Evaluation, RCCP
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research

35 Thornwood Drive, Ithaca, NY 14850



Deborah Sellers serves as the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Residential Child Care Project (RCCP) in the Bonfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR).  In this position she facilitates research and evaluation activities in RCCP by identifying new avenues for research, supporting the development of new proposals, monitoring and/or assisting with data collection, processing, and analyses, and writing manuscripts for publication. Dr. Sellers also oversees the data collection efforts associated with the implementation of RCCP's Children and Residential Experiences (CARE) and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) programs.  

Dr. Sellers has extensive experience in research and evaluation design, the design and implementation of survey research, and the analysis of quantitative data as well as data collection, processing, and analysis in substantive areas including chronic illness, end-of-life care, organ donation, adult and adolescent health promotion, and foster as well as residential care for children. Dr. Sellers has designed and directed both intervention and observational studies.  The intervention studies include a group randomized waitlist trial of the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Schools program, a national multi-center evaluation of a community education project to reduce pre-hospital delay among persons experiencing heart attack symptoms as well as interventions to improve cancer pain management and to identify potential organ donors and support of their families.  The observational studies Dr. Sellers has directed include an 11 wave longitudinal study of the quality of life and end-of-life decision-making of 300 adults with cystic fibrosis (CF) from 10 CF Centers across the country and a study of end-of-life care in pediatric intnsive care units. Dr. Sellers also participated in two studies of the views of research participants, patients, and clinicians about the sharing of genetic information when the information has implications for the care of the participant or the patients’ family and a study of the role of principal investigators of multi-center randomized clinicial trials.

Dr. Sellers graduated from Reed College in 1983 and completed a doctorate in Sociology with a specialization in research methods at the University of Massachusetts-Amerst in 1992 as well as an MS in biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health in 1993.

Group randomized waitlist trial evaluating the impact of the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Schools (TCI-S) in 19 elementary and K8 schools

Threshold concepts in the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) program

The role of adult-young person relationships in supporting feelings of safety among young people in residential care.

Systematic review of the evidence for the effectiveness of point and level (token economy) systems in managing behavior and promoting healthy development in residential care for children.

Systematic review assessing the evidence for the effectiveness of combining direct nutrition education with changes to food and/or physical activity policies, systems, and environments (PSEs) compared to either of these strategies alone on weight status and food and nutrition behaviors related to obesity prevention

Book Chapter



1. Hamilton, Stephen F., Mary Agnes Hamilton, David L. DuBois, M. Loreto Martinez, Patricio Cumsille, Bernadine Brady, Pat Dolan, Susana NuNez Rodriguez, and Deborah E. Sellers. 2017 “Youth-Adult Relationships as Assets for Youth: Promoting Positive Development in Stressful Times.” Ch. 10 in Positive Youth Development in Global Contexts of Social and Economic Change, Anne C. Petersen, Silvia H. Koller, Frosso Motti-Stefanidi, and Suman Verma (Eds.). New York: Routledge.

Journal Article Refereed



Anderton, D. L., & Sellers, D. E. (1989). A brief review of contextual-effect models and measurement. Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, 22(3), 106-115.

Sellers, D. E., McGraw, S. A., & McKinlay, J. B. (1994). Does the promotion and distribution of condoms increase teen sexual activity? Evidence from an HIV prevention program for Latino youth. American Journal of Public Health, 84(12), 1952-1959.

McGraw, S. A., Sellers, D. E., Johnson, C. C., Stone, E. J., Bachman, K. J., Bebchuk, J., ... & Edmundson, E. W. (1996). Using process data to explain outcomes: An illustration from the child and adolescent trial for cardiovascular health (CATCH). Evaluation Review, 20(3), 291-312.

Perry, C. L., Sellers, D. E., Johnson, C., Pedersen, S., Bachman, K. J., Parcel, G. S., ... & Cook, K. (1997). The Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health (CATCH): intervention, implementation, and feasibility for elementary schools in the United States. Health Education & Behavior, 24(6), 716-735.

Sellers, D. E., Crawford, S. L., Bullock, K., & Mckinlay, J. B. (1997). Understanding the variability in the effectiveness of community heart health programs: a meta-analysis. Social science & medicine, 44(9), 1325-1339.

Goff, D. C., Sellers, D. E., McGovern, P. G., Meischke, H., Goldberg, R. J., Bittner, V., ... & Nichaman, M. Z. (1998). Knowledge of heart attack symptoms in a population survey in the United States: the REACT trial. Archives of internal medicine, 158(21), 2329-2338.

Solomon, M. Z., Sellers, D. E., Heller, K. S., Dokken, D. L., Levetown, M., Rushton, C., ... & Fleischman, A. R. (2005). New and lingering controversies in pediatric end-of-life care. Pediatrics, 116(4), 872-883.

Meyer, E. C., Sellers, D. E., Browning, D. M., McGuffie, K., Solomon, M. Z., & Truog, R. D. (2009). Difficult conversations: improving communication skills and relational abilities in health care. Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, 10(3), 352-359.

Sawicki, G. S., Sellers, D. E., & Robinson, W. M. (2009). High treatment burden in adults with cystic fibrosis: challenges to disease self-management. Journal of Cystic Fibrosis, 8(2), 91-96.

Nunno, M., Sellers, D., & Holden, M. (2014). Implications of translational research for the field of residential child care. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 13(3), 1478-1840.

Sellers, D. E., Dawson, R., Cohen-Bearak, A., Solomon, M. Z., & Truog, R. D. (2015). Measuring the quality of dying and death in the pediatric intensive care setting: the clinician PICU-QODD. Journal of pain and symptom management, 49(1), 66-78.

Izzo, C. V., Smith, E. G., Holden, M. J., Norton, C. I., Nunno, M. A., & Sellers, D. E. (2016). Intervening at the setting level to prevent behavioral incidents in residential child care: Efficacy of the CARE program model. Prevention Science, 17(5), 554-564.

Hamilton, M. A., Hamilton, S. F., DuBois, D. L., & Sellers, D. E. (2016). Functional roles of important nonfamily adults for youth. Journal of Community Psychology, 44(6), 799-806.

Flewelling, K. D., Sellers, D. E., Sawicki, G. S., Robinson, W. M., & Dill, E. J. (2019). Social support is associated with fewer reported symptoms and decreased treatment burden in adults with cystic fibrosis. Journal of Cystic Fibrosis, 18(4), 572-576.

Holden, M. J., & Sellers, D. (2019). An evidence-based program model for facilitating therapeutic responses to pain-based behavior in residential care. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 10(2-3), 63-80.

Joffe, S., Sellers, D. E., Ekunwe, L., Antoine-Lavigne, D., McGraw, S., Levy, D., & Splansky, G. L. (2019). Preferences for Return of Genetic Results Among Participants in the Jackson Heart Study and Framingham Heart Study. Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine, 12(12), e002632.

Saylor, K. W., Ekunwe, L., Antoine-LaVigne, D., Sellers, D. E., McGraw, S., Levy, D., ... & Joffe, S. (2019). Attitudes toward genetics and genetic testing among participants in the Jackson and Framingham heart studies. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 14(3), 262-273.

Izzo, C. V., Smith, E. G., Sellers, D. E., Holden, M. J., & Nunno, M. A. (2020). Improving relationship quality in group care settings: The impact of implementing the CARE model. Children and Youth Services Review, 109, 104623.

Dr. Sellers is a member of the national Building Bridges Initiative workgroup on outcomes and the Research Committee of the Association of Children's Residential Centers.

1993, M.S., Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health

1992, Ph.D., Sociology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

1987, M.A., Sociology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

1983, B.A., Sociology, Reed College

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