Joshua P Mersky

Joshua P Mersky
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee | UWM · Department of Social Work

Ph.D., Social Welfare, UW-Madison

About

66
Publications
8,662
Reads
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2,263
Citations
Introduction
Joshua Mersky is a professor in the UWM Helen Bader School of Social Welfare and founding co-director of the Institute for Child and Family Well-being: http://uwm.edu/icfw/. Dr. Mersky's research interests include child maltreatment and other adverse experiences that undermine health and well-being over the life course. Dr. Mersky applies his expertise to the design, application, evaluation, and dissemination of effective prevention and intervention programs and practices.
Additional affiliations
January 2016 - February 2016
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 2016 - present
Institute for Child and Family Well-being
Position
  • Co-Director
January 2016 - May 2016
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Position
  • Professor (Associate)

Publications

Publications (66)
Article
Background Adolescent dating violence (ADV) and mental illness are highly prevalent, interrelated public health priorities. Increasingly, scholars are looking to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) to explain risk for these health concerns. Objectives Determine prevalence of ACEs, ADV perpetration and victimization, and anxiety and depression sym...
Article
Objective: This study examined the reliability and factor structure of the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS) and the prevalence and correlates of secondary traumatic stress (STS) among home visitors. Method: Survey data were collected between 2015 and 2020 from 301 home visitors with caseloads. Participants completed the 17-item STSS, whic...
Article
Introduction: Family Connects (FC) is a postnatal nurse home visiting program that has scale-up potential because it is brief, inexpensive, and universal. Three investigations have linked Family Connects to improved maternal and family outcomes, but no independent impact studies have been conducted to date. Methods: This study investigates a FC...
Article
Full-text available
Research has shown that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increase the risk of poor health and well-being, yet less is known about the pathways through which these life outcomes emerge. For instance, prospective, longitudinal research into the link between ACEs and the trajectories of children’s behavioral problems is limited. Moreover, no longi...
Article
Despite the persistent hypothesis that adverse childhood experiences (ACE) have intergenerational implications, empirical research documenting the effects and the mechanisms of transmission remains underdeveloped. This study examined the intergenerational effects of mothers’ adverse childhood experiences on their offspring’s social-emotional develo...
Article
Objectives The current study aimed to describe and predict perinatal depression trajectories in a sample of low-income women from the first trimester of pregnancy to six months postpartum. Methods The study sample consisted of 899 women in Wisconsin who received home visiting services. Eligible participants were screened for depressive symptoms by...
Article
Introduction: COVID-19 has resulted in massive health and economic consequences, with effects felt most acutely by populations that were disadvantaged prior to the pandemic. For families with young children, the effects have been compounded by service interruptions, though there is a lack of empirical evidence that demonstrates how COVID-19 has af...
Article
There is a growing interest in developing comprehensive assessments that measure intimate partner violence (IPV) alongside other adverse events that correlate with IPV and compound its effects. One promising line of research in this area has focused on the impact of exposure to multiple types of victimization, i.e., polyvictimization. The purpose o...
Article
Background Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are disturbingly common and consequential. Priority should be given to identifying populations that bear a disproportionate share of the burden of ACEs, but such disparities have received limited attention to date. Objective This study analyzes data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent...
Article
Adverse childhood experiences and other potentially traumatic events have lasting implications for mental health. Evidence-based treatments are available to address trauma-related symptoms, but their impact is hindered because access is limited and unequal. In the U.S., adverse experiences and mental disorders disproportionately affect socioeconomi...
Article
Organizational characteristics are important predictors of workplace outcomes , but the length and complexity of validated instruments restrict their use in research and practice. This study tested a brief Measure of Work Environment (MWE) using data from 718 child welfare and 349 home visiting professionals. Results confirmed a three-factor struct...
Article
Full-text available
The US is facing a rise in vaccine hesitancy, delay, and refusal, though little is known about these outcomes in socio-economically disadvantaged populations. This study examines the prevalence and correlates of vaccine attitudes and behaviors in a diverse cohort of low-income mothers receiving home visiting services. Survey data were collected fro...
Article
Objective: The current investigation is a validation study of the Adult Experiences Survey, a seminal assessment of adverse adult experiences. Method: Data were collected between July 2015 and June 2019 from a sample of 1,747 low-income women as part of a longitudinal study in Wisconsin, United States. Analyses of 10 adversities were conducted t...
Article
Background Research suggests that home visiting interventions can promote breastfeeding initiation, though their effects on breastfeeding continuation are unclear. No known studies have assessed the impact of home visiting on bedsharing. Aims To test the effects of home visiting on breastfeeding and bedsharing in a low-income, urban sample in the...
Article
Background International interest in adverse childhood experiences (ACE) is on the rise. In China, recent research has explored the effects of ACEs on health-related outcomes, but little is known about how ACEs impact the psychological functioning of rural Chinese youth as they make transition to adulthood. Objective This study is aimed to assess...
Article
Despite public sentiment to the contrary, recreational marijuana use is deleterious to adolescent health and development. Prospective studies of marijuana use trajectories and their predictors are needed to differentiate risk profiles and inform intervention strategies. Using data on 15,960 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolesc...
Article
Full-text available
Children in the child welfare system with mental health difficulties seldom receive evidence-based treatment (EBT) despite the abundance of validated interventions that exist. This manuscript describes two projects aimed at increasing access to EBTs. The first is a completed field trial of an adapted parent-child interaction therapy intervention wi...
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Full-text available
Objectives: This study examined the prevalence and correlates of maternal and infant sleep problems among low-income families receiving home visiting services. Methods: The study sample includes 1142 mother-infant dyads in Wisconsin, United States. Women completed a survey when their infants were between two weeks and one year old. Outcome data...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are associated with an array of health consequences in later life, but few studies have examined the effects of ACEs on women's birth outcomes. Methods: We analyzed data gathered from a sample of 1848 low-income women who received services from home visiting programs in Wisconsin. Archival program...
Article
Trauma in children and adults is prevalent. Advances in trauma‐informed programs, practices, and systems are necessary. Articles appearing in the special issue cover a range of topics and areas in trauma approaches. The special issue highlights work across systems that include child welfare, education, juvenile justice and health, as well as agenci...
Article
Full-text available
Given the human costs of psychological trauma, social workers should be well versed in trauma-informed care (TIC). This framework helps guide the efforts of systems, organizations, and practitioners toward reducing trauma or mitigating its effects. The field has created TIC principles, although they have yet to be fully realized as practical applic...
Article
Presentation of a trauma‐responsive screening and referral protocol. Feasibility study of a trauma‐responsive screening and referral protocol within employment services. Discussion of the relevance of trauma‐responsive screening and referral for community psychology. Discussion of the relevance of trauma‐responsive screening and referral for public...
Article
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) has been shown to reduce challenging child behavior and improve parenting skills, yet treatment attrition, non-adherence and non-response remain matters of concern. This study analyzes rates and factors associated with attrition, non-adherence, and non-response using data from a randomized controlled trial of...
Article
Introduction: Many service providers report concerns that questions about adverse events may upset clients. Studies indicate that most survey respondents answer sensitive questions without experiencing distress, although little is known about the prevalence or correlates of clients' discomfort when they are asked similar questions by direct care p...
Article
This exploratory study of 23 parent–child dyads receiving child welfare services examined the association between the number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) parents reported and their children’s externalizing behaviors. We also assessed whether the effects of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) on externalizing behaviors varied by paren...
Article
Most evidence-based home visiting models are designed to support families from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday, though programs often struggle to retain families for this long. Previous research on client and program factors that predict attrition has produced mixed results, which may be partly because attrition is typically conceptuali...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives In this study, we examined the prevalence of postpartum depression (PPD) and its association with select demographic factors and antenatal conditions. We also investigated whether greater exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is associated with PPD, and if antenatal conditions mediate the ACE-PPD relationship. Methods Data wer...
Article
Rationale: It is well established that exposure to a greater number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increases the risk of poor physical and mental health outcomes. Given the predictive validity of ACE scores and other cumulative risk metrics, a similar measurement approach may advance the study of risk in adulthood. Objective: We examine...
Article
Despite great interest in adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), there has been limited research on racial and ethnic differences in their prevalence. Prior research in the United States suggests that the prevalence of ACEs varies along socioeconomic lines, but it is uncertain whether there are racial/ethnic differences in ACE rates among low-income...
Article
Children served by the child welfare system count among society's most vulnerable members given their history of abuse, neglect, and other potentially traumatic experiences. Once they enter the system, however, these children seldom receive empirically validated interventions to mitigate the effects of trauma. This article highlights the promise of...
Article
Reducing alcohol misuse is a priority for U.S. health officials considering that misuse of alcohol is a leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality. Consequently, health centers are integrating Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for alcohol misuse within usual care. Although SBIRT is well validated among gener...
Article
Reducing alcohol misuse is a priority for U.S. health officials considering that misuse of alcohol is a leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality. Consequently, health centers are integrating Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for alcohol misuse within usual care. Although SBIRT is well validated among gener...
Article
Research on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) has unified the study of interrelated risks and generated insights into the origins of disorder and disease. Ten indicators of child maltreatment and household dysfunction are widely accepted as ACEs, but further progress requires a more systematic approach to conceptualizing and measuring ACEs. Usin...
Article
Differential response (DR) is a system reform that allows child protective services (CPS) agencies to divert low-to-moderate risk families from an investigative track to an alternate track that does not require a maltreatment disposition or identification of an alleged perpetrator. Knowledge of how DR alters how cases flow through CPS systems has b...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Research indicates that foster parents often do not receive sufficient training and support to help them meet the demands of caring for foster children with emotional and behavioral disturbances. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is a clinically efficacious intervention for child externalizing problems, and it also has been shown...
Article
Full-text available
This paper describes an innovative adaptation of an evidence-based intervention - Parent Child Interaction Therapy or PCIT - to foster parent training services. The authors faced multiple problems that commonly plague translational child welfare research as they developed, implemented and tested their model. The paper discusses how the authors addr...
Article
Full-text available
Objective This study presents outcomes from a randomized trial of a novel Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) model for foster families. Differential effects of two intervention doses on child externalizing and internalizing symptoms are examined. Method A sample of 102 foster children was assigned to one of three conditions—brief PCIT, extend...
Conference Paper
Background/Purpose: Tobacco use is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Research suggests that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increase the risk of tobacco use, though the mechanisms of effect are unclear. It is plausible that the ACE-tobacco connection is partly explained by antecedent or comorbid mental health conditions suc...
Conference Paper
Background/Purpose: Children placed in foster care are more likely than their peers in the general population to exhibit externalizing behavior problems such as aggression. Externalizing behaviors are the most common basis for referring young children to mental health services, yet evidence-based interventions that have been shown to ameliorate the...
Article
Research has shown that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increase the risk of poor health-related outcomes in later life. Less is known about the consequences of ACEs in early adulthood or among diverse samples. Therefore, we investigated the impacts of differential exposure to ACEs on an urban, minority sample of young adults. Health, mental h...
Article
Studies examining resilience to child maltreatment reveal that maltreatment victims can achieve adaptive functioning in several areas of development; however, few of these individuals persistently demonstrate resilience across multiple domains. The majority of these investigations define adjustment with a limited number of outcomes measured proxima...
Article
Research has shown that children placed in foster care fall below population norms on many indicators of well-being. Yet few studies have been designed to distill the effects of foster care from conditions that precede foster care. Based on the available evidence, it is also uncertain whether the purported effects of foster care are lasting. This s...
Conference Paper
Background and Purpose: Research indicates that increased exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is linked to an elevated risk of long-term health consequences. This investigation expands on extant evidence derived principally from studies of Caucasian, middle-class individuals in midlife, by examining how ACEs impact the health and well-...
Article
Full-text available
This study compares the effects of childhood maltreatment and adolescent maltreatment on delinquency and crime, including violent and nonviolent offending. Methods: Data were derived from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, a prospective investigation of 1,539 underprivileged, minority subjects. Results: Results confirmed that rates of overall delinque...
Article
Research suggests that child maltreatment predicts juvenile violence, but it is uncertain whether the effects of victimization persist into adulthood or differ across gender. Furthermore, we know little about the mechanisms underlying the victim-perpetrator cycle for males and females. Consequently, this study analyzed associations between child ma...
Article
Increased recognition of the consequences associated with child maltreatment has led to greater emphasis on its prevention. Promising maltreatment prevention strategies have been identified, but research continues to suffer from methodological limitations and a narrow focus on select prevention models. This investigation uses data from the Chicago...
Article
This study assessed the association between child maltreatment (ages 0—11) and offending behavior within gender-specific models. Prospectively collected data, including official measures of maltreatment and offending, were derived from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, a panel study of 1,539 low-income minority participants. Multivariate probit analy...
Article
Using prospective data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, this investigation examined associations between child maltreatment and an array of outcomes in early adulthood. Findings from bivariate and multivariate analyses indicated that verified maltreatment victims fared significantly worse than participants without an indicated maltreatment repo...
Conference Paper
Evidence consistently links child maltreatment (CM) to juvenile delinquency, and this association manifests for both males and females albeit to varying degrees. Less is known about the relation between CM and adult offending, although a small number of studies suggest that maltreatment's criminogenic effects extend into adulthood for men and women...
Article
Full-text available
To examine: (a) child maltreatment's association with young adult daily cigarette smoking, (b) variations in this association by gender, and (c) mediators of this association. For all study participants (N = 1,125, 94% African American), data from multiple sources (e.g., child welfare records) were collected prospectively at child, adolescent, and...
Article
Growing evidence indicates that education is associated with health, yet we lack knowledge about the specific educational experiences influencing health trajectories. This study examines the role school factors play in the emergence of poor young adult health outcomes for a low-income, minority sample. The following research questions are addressed...
Conference Paper
Over the last several years, research examining the link between childhood maltreatment and resilience has burgeoned. Findings demonstrate that maltreated children are at high-risk for a multitude of maladaptive outcomes, i.e., multifinality, and when compared to disadvantaged yet non-maltreated peers, achieve resilience much less often. Mediation...
Conference Paper
Neglect is the most prevalent form of child maltreatment, yet few interventions have been shown to prevent initial and chronic instances of neglect. Further, no known studies have identified the specific mediating mechanisms by which a program's services lead to reduced neglect. This study uses data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS), whic...
Article
This investigation extends previous Chicago Longitudinal Study research by examining whether Child-Parent Center preschool participation was associated with lower rates of transitory and chronic neglect. Few studies have investigated intervention effects on specific types of maltreatment, and this is the first known study to examine the impacts of...
Article
This chapter presents evidence from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS) on the impacts of the Chicago Child-Parent-Center (CPC) program, which provides educational and family support services to economically disadvantaged children and their parents from preschool through third grade. It describes its basic philosophy and service model, and highlig...
Conference Paper
Growing evidence indicates that education is associated with behavioral health, yet we lack knowledge about the specific educational experiences that influence health outcomes, particularly among disadvantaged groups. This study examines the role of school experiences in predicting behavioral health outcomes in a low-income, minority sample. Resear...
Conference Paper
Research has shown that child maltreatment is associated with poor behavioral outcomes in childhood and adolescence. Few studies have examined the long-term impacts of maltreatment, or whether outcomes vary by the type or timing of maltreatment. This investigation uses prospective data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, a panel study of 1,539 min...
Article
This study investigates associations between individual, family, and extrafamilial factors and the likelihood of subsequent childhood and adolescent maltreatment. The authors analyzed 1,411 participants in the Chicago Longitudinal Study whose maltreatment records were verified from administrative data. Findings suggest that maternal age at the chil...
Article
Full-text available
To determine the effects of an established preventive intervention on the health and well-being of an urban cohort in young adulthood. Follow-up of a nonrandomized alternative-intervention matched-group cohort at age 24 years. Chicago, Illinois. A total of 1539 low-income participants who enrolled in the Child-Parent Center program in 20 sites or i...
Article
This study employs data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS) to investigate the relation between child maltreatment and the incidence and frequency of violent delinquency. The authors also examine if effects vary between physically abused and neglected children and if select indicators (sex, cumulative risk, public aid receipt) moderate the co...
Article
Using data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, an ongoing panel investigation of more than 1,500 children, this article identifies a comprehensive set of predictors of educational attainment, employment, income, and adult crime. Predictors are measured from participants’ birth through high school by means of surveys and administrative records. The...
Article
Using prospective data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS), we investigated the effects of early childhood and school-age predictors on female childbearing, including participation in the Chicago Child–Parent Center (CPC) Program, and related family and school behaviors. The CLS follows the progress of a single cohort of 1539 low-income, mino...
Article
ABSTRACT Context . Although the benefits of early childhood interventions are well established, few studies have investigated effects into adulthood, especially for large-scale, publicly funded programs. Previous studies of one of the oldest federally funded early childhood programs found that

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