To continue with our highlights of our 2020-21 Faculty Affiliates, today we are putting Dr. R. Turner Goins in the spotlight. Turner is the Ambassador Jeanette Hyde Distinguished Professor in the Department of Social Work in the College of Health and Human Sciences at WCU.

Turner received her B.A. in Psychology from East Carolina University and her Master’s and Ph.D. in Gerontology from the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Before joining WCU as a professor in 2013, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Duke University’s Medical Center and held faculty positions at West Virginia University and Oregon State University. Turner’s research is primarily focused on American Indian and Alaska Native aging-related issues.

CSFE is currently planning our 2020-21 COVID-19 Townhall Event, partnering with organizations beyond WCU, to create a series of virtual and small in-person events on a variety of topics. Turner will be presenting her research, which is a study done in the spring of 2020 with her research class involving interviewing older adults about their experiences with coping with the pandemic in lockdown and adhering to the recommendations.

The study had 43 participants confined to the U.S. and were each asked about their perceived risk of poor outcomes if they were to contract COVID-19, how their finances had been impacted by the pandemic, and the emotional coping of being in isolation. Currently, Turner is working with her research class this semester to conduct a follow-up study with these same participants.

“The emphasis was primarily on how older adults are coping, how are they handling the emotional end of things, because research shows that prior to COVID-19, older adults were at greatest risk for being socially isolated. Social isolation has been shown to have a lot of negative outcomes for people in terms of physical and mental health outcomes,” said Turner, continuing,  “Since older adults are at highest risk for social isolation, when you layer on top of that, the pandemic and the expectations to socially isolate, as a gerontologist, I had the interest to see, how was that?”

Through this qualitative study, Turner and her research class found how important it is to frame this in a positive light and to acknowledge the resiliency of not only their participants but all U.S. older adults. “This study reflected the extent that they [participants and older adults] are being resilient with their coping and finding new and creative ways to structure their days as we try to minimize our exposure,” said Turner.

We are very proud to have Turner in our 2020-21 Faculty Affiliate cohort and for her current research. Her research study above is under review at a public health journal, and she hopes it will be published soon. As she will be participating in our COVID-19 Townhall Event later this spring, be sure to check back to our website or Facebook page for updates on that event.

Thanks to Turner for making her work a part of CSFE.