I am a clinical psychologist whose research aims to understand and improve family health and well-being, particularly among underserved and marginalized populations. My work examines (1) how and why relationships change; (2) the effects of minority and contextual stressors such as racial discrimination, financial strain, and sexual stigma on individual and family functioning and the protective factors that buffer these effects; and (3) preventive interventions to strengthen relational, physical, and mental health among couples and families. Much of my current work focuses on African American families living in the South, and I am also interested in issues relating to LGBTQ families. I recently completed the Sleep SAAF study, a randomized controlled trial for first-time African American mothers and their newborn infants that aimed to advance understanding of family dynamics and health during the perinatal period and reduce early health disparities.
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
B.A., Williams College
Couple and family relationships, prevention/intervention, health disparities, minority and contextual stress, LGBTQ issues
Adesogan, O., Lavner, J. A., Carter, S. E., & Beach, S. R. H. (in press). COVID-19 stress and the health of Black Americans in the rural South. Clinical Psychological Science.
Kanter, J. B., Lavner, J. A., Lannin, D. G., Hilgard, J., & Monk, J. K. (2022). Does couple communication predict later relationship quality and dissolution? A meta-analysis. Journal of Marriage and Family, 84, 533–551.
Hart, A. R., Lavner, J. A., Carter, S. E., & Beach, S. R. H. (2021). Racial discrimination, depressive symptoms, and sleep problems among Blacks in the rural South. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 27, 123–134.
Lavner, J. A., Barton, A. W., Adesogan, O., & Beach, S. R. H. (2021). Family-centered prevention buffers the effect of financial strain on parenting interactions, reducing youth conduct problems in African American families. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 89, 783–791.
Lavner, J. A., Barton, A. W., & Beach, S. R. H. (2020). Direct and indirect effects of a couple-focused preventive intervention on children’s outcomes: A randomized controlled trial with African American families. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 88, 696–707.
Lavner, J. A., Williamson, H. C., Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (2020). Premarital parenthood and newlyweds’ marital trajectories. Journal of Family Psychology, 34, 279–290.
Lavner, J. A., Stansfield, B. K., Beach, S. R. H., Brody, G. H., & Birch, L. L. (2019). Sleep SAAF: A responsive parenting intervention to prevent excessive weight gain and obesity among African American infants. BMC Pediatrics, 19, 224.
Petruzzella, A., Feinstein, B. A., & Lavner, J. A. (2019). Sexual orientation-related stigma and relationship functioning among female same-sex couples. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 23, 439–450.
I may be accepting a new graduate student for Fall 2023. My lab is currently focused on topics related to the Sleep SAAF randomized controlled trial, the transition to parenthood, health disparities, minority and contextual stress, and couple dynamics and interventions. Students with research interests in any of these areas are likely to find the lab a particularly good fit for them. The lab is highly collaborative, student affirming, and inclusive.