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Cathleen E. Willging

Senior Research Scientist, Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest
Affiliate, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

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About Cathleen

Willging’s expertise lies in the areas of mental health services research, managed care, health policy, rural health, gender/sexuality, and Native American studies.


In the News

Opinion: "GOP Health Care Bill Would Make Rural America’s Distress Much Worse," Cathleen E. Willging (with Claire Snell-Rood), The Conversation, June 26, 2017.
Opinion: "‘Trumpcare’ Damages Rural New Mexicans," Cathleen E. Willging (with Claire Snell-Rood), Santa Fe New Mexican, June 5, 2017.
Guest on Breaking Bonds (Documentary), August 29, 2013.


"Cultivating Healing by Implementing Restorative Practices for Youth: Protocol for a Cluster Randomized Trial" (with Kim Zamarin, Layla M. Dehaiman, Amy E. Green, and Patricio Ruiloba). International Journal of Educational Research 93 (2019): 168-176.

Describes cultivating healing by implementing restorative practices for youth: Protocol for a cluster randomized trial.

"Structural Inequality and Social Support for Women Prisoners Released to Rural Communities" (with Elise Trott Jaramillo, Ethel G. Nicdao, and Nicole C. Kellet). Women and Criminal Justice (2015).

Examines the return of women prisoners to underserved rural communities and the perspectives of their closest social supporters through semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Challenges discourses of personal responsibility that detract from the structural violence and injustice shaping their experiences and considers policy implications and strategies to reduce recidivism.

"From a "Perfect Storm" to "Smooth Sailing": Policymaker Perspectives on Implementation and Sustainment of an Evidence-Based Practice in Two States." (with Amy E. Green, Lara Gunderson, Mark Chaffin, and Gregory A. Aarons). Child Maltreat 20, no. 1 (2015): 24-36.
Analyzes transcripts via open and focused coding techniques to identify the commonality, diversity, and complexity of implementation challenges, approaches to overcoming those challenges, and the importance of system-level contextual factors in ensuring successful implementation.
"Hitting the Wall: Boredom, Trouble and Youth Drug Use in Rural New Mexico" (with Gilbert A. Quintero and Elizabeth A. Lilliott). Youth and Society 46, no. 1 (2014): 3–29.
Illustrates how “boredom” and “troublemaking” represent manifestations of social position, political economic realities, and assessments of possible futures for rural youth in southwestern New Mexico.
"The Impact of State Behavioral Health Reform on Native American Individuals, Families, and Communities" (with Jessica Goodkind, Louise Lamphere, Gwendolyn Saul, Shannon Fluder, and Paula Seanez). Qualitative Health Research 22, no. 7 (2012): 880-896.
Details the involvement of Native Americans in state-initiated behavioral health reform efforts and the subsequent impacts on services and stakeholders.
"Lost in the Rush to National Reform: Recommendations for Improving the Impact on Behavioral Health Care in Rural Areas" (with Rafael M. Semansky, David J. Ley, and Barbara Rylko-Bauer). Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 23, no. 2 (2012).
Describes lessons learned from five years of research on a major systems-change initiative in New Mexico.
"The Soft Underbelly of System Change: The Roles of Leadership, Organizational Climate, and Turnover Intentions in Provider Turnover during a Statewide Behavioral Health Care System Transformation" (with Gregory A. Aarons and David H. Sommerfeld). Psychological Services 8, no. 4 (2011): 260-281.

This quantitative examination sheds light on how leadership, organizational climate, and finances affected turnover intentions and voluntary turnover within behavioral health agencies during the early stages of a statewide system change.