About Us : Faculty : Dunkel Schetter

Chris Dunkel Schetter, Ph.D.
Professor, UCLA Department of Psychology
Director, UCLA Health Psychology Program
Associate Member, Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute

Research Interests

Dr. Dunkel Schetter directs the Health Psychology Pre-Doctoral Training Program which has a long history of interaction and collaboration with the Cousins Center for PNI. Several pre-doctoral students have received “seed grant” awards from the Cousins Center for PNI to support their pre-doctoral research projects including such mature PNI researchers as Drs. Miller, Bower, and Segerstrom. Her broad research expertise is in stress, coping and social support in a variety of health and mental health contexts. She has studied social relationships and adjustment to cancer, coping with stress and social support in middle-aged couples, psychological adjustment to infertility, genetic screening for cystic fibrosis, and adjustment to HIV/AIDS. At present, her primary program of research is on

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stress processes in pregnancy. In this work, Dunkel Schetter and collaborators Drs. Hobel, Liu, Mancuso, and Irwin examine various aspects of prenatal maternal stress including stress exposures, emotional responses, and appraisals of stress and their effects on neuroendocrine mediators, inflammatory cytokines, and preterm birth and low birthweight. Dunkel Schetter and Mancuso have documented that prenatal anxiety reliably predicts time of gestation and that corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) is involved in the mechanisms responsible for preterm delivery. In concert with Dr. Mancuso, Dr. Dunkel-Schetter is also conducting studies on the role of stress in infection in pregnancy especially in African American women who have higher rates of infections such as bacterial vaginosis.

Current research

Behavioral Issues in Physical and Mental Health
Principal Investigator: Dunkel Schetter
Agency: NIMH Training Grant
Type: MH15750 Period: 7/1/01 – 6/30/06

The major goal of this project is to train research scientists in health psychology, specifically in the application of basic theories and research in psychology to issues in physical and mental health. The program has particular expertise in the following areas: stress and coping, social support, adjustment to cancer and chronic disease, primary prevention, health behavior and health behavior change, socioeconomic & ethnic, racial and minority factors in health.

Intramural UCLA grant to conduct a pilot study on Psychophysiology of Pregnancy: Stress and Inflammation. Collaborative with M. Lu and R. Mancuso.

Recent publications

Dunkel-Schetter C, Gurung RAR, Lobel M & Wadhwa PD. Psychological, biological and social processes in pregnancy: Using a stress framework to study birth outcomes. In A. Baum, T. Revenson, & J. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of Health Psychology, Hillsdale New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2000.

Feldman PJ, Dunkel-Schetter C, Sandman CA & Wadhwa PD. Maternal social support predicts birth weight and fetal growth in human pregnancy. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62(5), 715-725, 2000.

Rini CK, Dunkel-Schetter C, Sandman CA & Wadhwa PD. Psychological adaptation and birth outcomes: The role of personal resources, stress, and sociocultural context in pregnancy. Health Psychology, 18(4), 333-345, 1999.

Hobel CJ, Dunkel-Schetter C, Roesch SC, Castro LC & Aurora CP. Maternal plasma corticotropin-releasing hormone associated with stress at 20 weeks gestation in pregnancies ending in preterm delivery. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 180(1), S257-S263, 1999.

Zambrana RE, Dunkel-Schetter C, Collings N & Scrimshaw SC. Mediators of ethnic-associated differences in infant birth weight. Journal of Urban Health, 76(1), 102-116. 1999.

Dunkel-Schetter C. Maternal stress and preterm delivery. Prenatal and Neonatal Medicine, 3, 39-42, 1998.

Hobel C, Dunkel-Schetter C. & Roesch S. Maternal stress as signal to the fetus. Prenatal & Neonatal Medicine, 3, 116-120, 1998.

Zambrana RE, Scrimshaw SCM, Collins N & Dunkel-Schetter C. Prenatal health behaviors and psychosocial risk factors in pregnant women of Mexican origin: The role of acculturation. American Journal of Public Health, 87(6), 1022-1026, 1997.

Sandman CA, Wadhwa PD, Porto M, Chicz-DeMet A & Dunkel-Schetter C. Maternal stress, HPA activity, and fetal/infant outcomes. In B. E. Beckwith, A. Saria, B. M. Chronwall, C. Sandman, & F. L. Strand (Eds.), Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: Vol. 814. Neuropeptides in development and aging (266-275). NY: New York Academy of Sciences, 1997.

Wadhwa PD, Dunkel-Schetter C, Chicz-DeMet A, Porto M & Sandman CA. Prenatal psychosocial factors and the neuroendocrine axis in human pregnancy. Psychosomatic Medicine, 58(5), 432-446, 1996.

Christine Dunkel Schetter
Professor of Psychology
Director of Health Psychology
Department of Psychology
405 Hilgard Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90272
310 206-8116