College of Health and Human Services

Emily S. Ihara, PhD

Associate Professor, Social Work

Faculty Directory

Research Focus
My research focuses on the social determinants of health, especially for marginalized older people. Social, economic, and environmental conditions shape the context of each individual\’s life and trajectory. For individuals living with Alzheimer\’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) and their care partners, these social determinants are compounded by the presence of a chronic, degenerative, and costly disease. Non-pharmacological, person-centered interventions, such as those involving music or creative storytelling provide ways to improve their lived experiences. My current projects are centered on assessing the effectiveness of community-based and creative arts interventions for this population in order to improve their health and quality of life. I am also interested in the upstream solutions that could improve the fragmented long-term care system to better support the unpaid contributions of informal caregivers and the working conditions of formal caregivers. The changing racial and ethnic composition of the older adult population and their care partners requires multi-level and multi-sector interventions, policies, and systems change to address the social determinants of health from birth to death in order to eliminate health inequities and improve lives.
Current Projects
  • National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network
  • TimeSlips: Creative Storytelling for Individuals Living with ADRD and Their Care Partners
  • Mason’s Music & Memory Initiative


Phone: 703-993-2023




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