Social and Community Psychiatry Division


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The Social and Community Psychiatry Division seeks to: 1) understand how social factors, in concert with other biological and psychological factors, influence the causes, expression and course of psychiatric disorders and 2) to support and improve the practice of public sector psychiatry. Activities of the division are focused on clinical practice, research and education.

Research Programs

Services Effectiveness Research Program (SERP) - The mission of SERP is to help integrate psychiatric and psychological research into clinical practice. Researchers in SERP conduct mental health services research in the following four areas: Treatment Effectiveness Research, Mental Health Services/Policy, Law and Mental Health, and Intervention/Dissemination/Training. The program is directed by Barbara Burns, PhD (

Duke AHEC Program—In an effort to strengthen the behavioral health workforce in North Carolina this program provides continuing education and technical assistance to mental health and substance abuse providers around the state. A particular focus is implementing evidence-based practices for rural and underserved populations. The program also sponsors resident rotations to public sector mental health and substance abuse programs.

National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives - The National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives provides information and outreach to patients, families, clinicians and other persons interested in the use of psychiatric advance directives—a new legal tool designed to allow persons with mental illness to state their preferences for future treatment during a mental health crisis and appoint a trusted person to serve as a proxy decision maker during such a crisis. The Center is directed by Marvin Swartz, MD ( and Co-directed by Jeffrey Swanson, PhD (

Global Mental Health - Global mental health research in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is experiencing an exciting period of growth. The topics and geographic areas studied reflect the diversity of Duke researchers and range from clinical research to large population based studies, from South Africa to South Asia. Researchers are also active in cross-disciplinary and cross-campus collaborations, with strong ties to both the Duke Global Health Institute and the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research, among others.

Education & Fellowships

We provide clinical and research education of medical students, psychiatric residents and post-doctoral research fellows in public mental health services.

Psychiatry Residency Education

PGY-III Social and Community Psychiatry Series – Duke Psychiatry residents in PGY-III participate in a weekly seminar series. Part I focuses on the social context of and systems of care for seriously mentally ill individuals. Part II focuses on forensic psychiatry. Topics include areas of forensic psychiatry encountered in general psychiatry practice.

Part 1: Organization and Financing of Care
History of Care for Individuals with Severe & Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI)
The Journey of Sylvia Frumkin in the Mental Health System
Psychiatric Rehabilitation
The Voice of the Consumer in the Mental Health System
The Role of the Family in Caring for Adults with SPMI
Crisis Services
Case Management for Patients with SPMI
The Role of Advocacy
Financing Mental Health Care
Latino Cultural Issues in Mental Health
Financing Health Care II
Substance Abuse Treatment in a Managed Care World
Issues in Psychiatric Epidemiology
Violence and Psychiatric Disorder
Mental Health Financing & Reform
SPMI: The Experience of the Minority

Part 2: Law and Psychiatry
Introduction to the Law & Legal System
The Psychiatrist as Expert Witness
Child & Family Forensic Issues
Psychiatric Malpractice
Violence Risk Assessments
Competency to Stand Trial
Personal Injury/Disability
Insanity Defense/Criminal Responsibility
Capital Punishment & Psychiatry

Post-Doctoral Fellowships Health Services Research

The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in partnership with the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center, offers postdoctoral training opportunities for qualified candidates. Other collaborating units at UNC-CH include the Department of Social Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry. The program is supported by a National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Training Grant from the National Institute of Mental Health of the U.S. Public Health Service.

The Program is intended to expand the pool of investigators capable of undertaking policy-relevant mental health services and systems research. It will assist persons with a doctoral degree in sociology, psychology, anthropology, social work, psychiatry, public health or related fields to gain experience in applying research methods to the systematic analysis and evaluation of mental health services and public policy issues. The emphases of the training program are the organization, financing, utilization, quality, and evaluation of mental health care services; public policies for ensuring access to such services; and the social epidemiology of mental disorders. The Program is committed to multidisciplinary training, a public sector orientation, and a special focus on persons with a severe and persistent mental illness. To apply, residents contact: Joseph Morrissey, Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill, CB#7590, Sheps Ctr. for Health Services Research, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7590; telephone: (919)966-5829;