• Dr. Frank Puga is an assistant professor in the Department of Acute, Chronic, and Continuing Care at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing. He is a Hispanic scientist with a background in psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and aging health disparities. Dr. Puga received his Ph.D. in psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience from the University of Texas at Austin. His research program focuses on the stress and mental health profiles of older adults living with chronic illness and their care partners. Much of his work focuses on minoritized populations disproportionately impacted by dementia and cancer, including Hispanics and LGBTQ+ individuals who also experience high rates of minority stress and poor mental health.

    Dr. Puga recently completed a diversity supplement from the National Institute of Aging that examined relationships between contextual factors, such as caregiving stress and available social support, and psychological distress that care partners experience on a given day. Dr. Puga also has a recent R01 grant from the National Institute of Aging, examining stress, resilience, cultural factors, and daily and long-term mental health patterns among Hispanic dementia caregivers. His primary outcomes of interest are anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. The main goal of Dr. Puga’s work is to understand which individuals, under what circumstances, are more likely to shift from mild psychological distress to severe psychopathology. Ultimately this work will inform the development of resilience-based interventions that are culturally responsive and tailored to the unique needs of individuals living with chronic illness and their care partners.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2022 Daily Stressors, Social Support, and Mental Health Experiences of Dementia Family CaregiversAlzheimer's and Dementia.  18. 2022
    2022 The Project ENABLE Cornerstone randomized controlled trial: study protocol for a lay navigator-led, early palliative care coaching intervention for African American and rural-dwelling advanced cancer family caregiversTrials.  23. 2022
    2022 Risk Factors of Cognitive Decline in Older Caregivers With HIV: An Emerging HypothesisJournal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care.  33:676-681. 2022
    2022 Bias reported by family caregivers in support received when assisting patients with cancer-related decision-makingCancer Medicine2022
    2022 Early Stages of COVID-19 Pandemic Had No Discernable Impact on Risk of Elder Abuse and Neglect Among Dementia Family Caregivers: A Daily Diary StudyJournal of Family Violence2022
    2022 Multi-sample assessment of stress reactivity as a mediator between childhood adversity and mid- to late-life outcomesAging and Mental Health.  26:1207-1216. 2022
    2022 The relationship between daily stressors, social support, depression and anxiety among dementia family caregivers: a micro-longitudinal studyAging and Mental Health2022
    2021 Gender differences in caregiver burden among family caregivers of persons with dementiaJournal of Gerontological Nursing.  47:33-42. 2021
    2020 Suicidal Ideation in Dementia Family CaregiversInnovation in Aging.  4:477-477. 2020
    2020 The Half Life of Stress: Caregiver Stress Increases Next-Day Severity of Behavioral Symptoms of DementiaInnovation in Aging.  4:253-254. 2020
    2020 Daily stressful experiences, depressive symptoms, and behavioral responses of ADRD family caregiversAlzheimer's and Dementia.  16. 2020
    2020 Daily context for abusive and neglectful behavior in family caregiving for dementiaGerontologist.  60:483-493. 2020
    2019 Transitioning into the caregiver role following a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or related dementia: A scoping reviewInternational Journal of Nursing Studies.  96:119-131. 2019
    2018 Advancing care for family caregivers of persons with dementia through caregiver and community partnershipsResearch Involvement and Engagement.  4. 2018
    2017 Beyond the Horizon: International Learning Experiences, Community Engagement, and Mental Health in GuatemalaIssues in Mental Health Nursing.  38:455-457. 2017
    2016 The citizen scientist: Community-academic partnerships through Translational Advisory BoardsPatient Education and Counseling.  99:2087-2090. 2016
    2015 Standards of Best Practice: Simulation Standard VIII: Simulation-Enhanced Interprofessional Education (Sim-IPE)Clinical Simulation in Nursing.  11:293-297. 2015
    2014 AONE and AONE Foundation Honor 2014 Award RecipientsNurse Leader.  12:21-23. 2014
    2014 Chronic social stress in puberty alters appetitive male sexual behavior and neural metabolic activity 2014
    2012 Improving the odds through the Collaboration Success WizardTranslational Behavioral Medicine.  2:480-486. 2012
    2009 Risk assessment and avoidance in juvenile golden hamsters exposed to repeated stress 2009
    2007 Functional networks underlying latent inhibition learning in the mouse brainNeuroImage.  38:171-183. 2007

    Research Overview

  • Dr. Puga's research focuses on the stress and mental health profiles of older adults living with chronic illness and their care partners. He is specifically interested in the relationship between stress, resilience, cultural factors, and mental health experiences of older adults living with chronic illness and their care partners over time. His lab uses multi-time scale designs and applies structural equation modeling, multi-level modeling, and group-based trajectory modeling a) to examine inter-and intra-individual variations in depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, b) to identify psychosocial, cultural, behavioral, and biological factors that increase resilience to stress and improve quality of life in older adults and c) to develop and test resilience-based interventions that reduce stress and the burden of age-related diseases for older adults and their care partners. A significant focus of his research is on diverse patient populations, specifically Hispanics and LGBTQ+ individuals, that are disproportionately impacted by stress and age-related diseases.
  • Education And Training

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, University of Texas System : Austin 2009
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Trinity University 2004
  • Full Name

  • Frank Puga