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Kristin Litzelman

State Specialist in Family and Financial Well-being in Middle and Later Life, Assistant Professor
Human Development and Family Studies Department and Major
Office 4115
Office Hours
By Appointment
Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.

–Margaret Mead

My interests center around how illness impacts families, primarily through the lens of family caregiving. This includes improving quality of life and well-being of caregivers, examining how caregiver well-being influences the care recipient and others in the family, and exploring long-term financial and health consequences. Through my research, I seek to learn how individuals influence and are influenced by their family/community, and how these factors translate into health or ‘un-health’ over the short and long term. The end goal of my research is to aid the development of tools (e.g., interventions, education about the ripple effect of disease throughout families) to improve outcomes for families facing health problems and disability.

I am currently recruiting students to work on projects related to:

  • The impact of caregiver well-being on care recipient health and well-being outcomes
  • Understanding and improving caregiver access to community and social resources
  • Caregiver access to and utilization of mental health treatment

Students will get involved in both research and translation, dissemination, and outreach efforts. To apply to our graduate program, see our application webpage. I welcome both undergraduate and graduate students to contact me directly to learn more about getting involved in research and outreach.

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You have to take care of yourself to take care of others. Family caregivers, though, often struggle with just that, coping with burnout, financial instability, and even health problems. My mission is to improve the quality of life and health of families coping with an illness or a disability. To this end, I seek to conduct research leading towards evidence-based, scalable, multi-level approaches to improve the health and quality of life of such families, and to raise awareness about the importance of family caregivers through community outreach.

Biopsychosocial and bidirectional impacts of illness/disabilities on families

Role of psychological stress/appraisal in the development of health outcomes among informal caregivers

Impact of caregivers on their care recipient’s health outcomes and medical care

Interventions to improve caregiver and care recipient outcomes

Litzelman K, Kent EE, Rowland JH. Social factors in cancer family caregivers: The interrelationships among social stressors, relationship quality, and family functioning in the CanCORS dataset. Cancer. 2016 Jan 15;122(2):27886.


Litzelman K, Green PA, and Yabroff KR. Cancer and quality of life in spousal dyads: Spillover in couples with and without cancer-related health problems. Support Care Cancer. 2016 Feb;24(2):76371.


Litzelman K and Yabroff KR. How are spousal depression, distress, and quality of life associated with risk of depression among cancer survivors? Longitudinal findings from a population-based national sample. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015 Jun;24(6):969-77.


Litzelman K, Skinner HG, Gangnon RE, Nieto FJ, Malecki K, Mailick MR, and Witt WP. The Relationship among Caregiving Characteristics, Caregiver Strain, and Health-Related Quality of Life: Evidence from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin. Qual Life Res. 2014.


Litzelman K, Witt WP, Gangnon RE, Nieto FJ, Engelman CD, Mailick MR and Skinner HG. Association between Informal Caregiving and Cellular Aging in the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin: The Role of Caregiving Characteristics, Stress, and Strain. Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Jun 1;179(11):1340-52.


Litzelman K, Skinner HG, Gangnon RE, Nieto FJ, Malecki K, and Witt WP. Role of Global Stress in the Health-Related Quality of Life of Caregivers: Evidence from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin. Qual Life Res. 2014 Jun;23(5):1569-78.


A complete list of publications is available via PubMed or Google Scholar