Carol S Fullerton
Department of Primary Appointment:
School of Medicine
Scientific Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
Location: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MDResearch Interests:
Individual and community responses to trauma, disaster, terrorism and combat
Suicide risk and resilience
Education1972 B.A., Psychology, Alfred University, Alfred NY
1975 M.A., Developmental Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park
1987 Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park
BiographyPositions and Employment
2005-present Research Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
1990-present Scientific Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Bethesda, MD
Member, American Psychological Association
Member, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
Member, American Psychological Society
Member, American Orthopsychiatric Association
2005 James Leonard Award for Excellence in Research, USUHS
1993 Exceptional Service Award, Department of Defense
1990 Meritorious Service Medal, Iowa National Guard
1990 Outstanding Service Recognition, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
Carol S. Fullerton, PhD is Research Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University, and Scientific Director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress. Dr. Fullerton is widely published in the areas of post-traumatic stress disorder and the behavioral and psychological effects of disasters, war, terrorism, family violence, child neglect, bereavement, and suicide. She has over 230 publications and is editor on five books. Dr. Fullerton’s articles are widely cited for her contributions to government planning and developing response capabilities to disasters, war, deployment, and terrorism. Dr. Fullerton has been Principal Investigator on a number of externally funded grants and is an Investigator on the Army STARRS project to study suicide, risk, and resilience in Army soldiers. She has extensive experience in epidemiological studies of trauma and in developing and disseminating educational materials to assist communities, families and individuals exposed to trauma events. Dr. Fullerton has conducted empirical investigations and provided consultation to disaster and traumatic events including work with soldiers and spouses following deployment, families of injured soldiers, bereaved families, and disaster workers and spouses. She developed an intervention for Mortuary Affairs soldiers returning from deployment and their spouses. Dr. Fullerton was a national consultant for planning research programs following the September 11th terrorist attacks and developing educational materials that were some of the most widely disseminated throughout the nation. Dr. Fullerton’s research and consultation to disaster populations was recognized by the awarding of the Department of Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the USUHS Exceptional Service Medal. Dr. Fullerton is recipient of the James Leonard Award for Excellence in Clinical Research, USUHS.
1. Disaster Medicine. Since its inception in 1987, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) has developed research, training, and consultation programs to mitigate the impact of trauma from exposure to war, disasters, terrorism, community violence, and public health threats. The CSTS has helped to define and advance the integration of disaster psychiatry and military psychiatry. CSTS has been involved in nearly every major disaster our nation has experienced in the past nearly 30 years.
a) Ursano, R.J., Fullerton, C.S., Weisaeth, L., & Raphael, B. (Eds.). (2017). Textbook of Disaster Psychiatry (2nd Ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781316481424
b) Fullerton C.S., Ursano, R.J., Liu, X., McKibben, J.B.A., Wang, L., & Reissman, D.B. (2015). Depressive symptom severity and community collective Efficacy following the 2004 Florida hurricanes. PLoS ONE, 10(6): e0130863. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130863.
c) Fullerton, C.S., Gifford, R., Flynn, B.W., Peterson, K.M., Ahearn, F.L., Donaldson, L.P., & Ursano, R,J. (2009). Effects of the 2002 sniper attacks on the homeless population in Washington, DC. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 3(3), 163-167.
d) Grieger, T.A., Fullerton, C.S., & Ursano, R.J. (2003). Posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, alcohol use, and perceived safety thirteen months following the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Psychiatric Services, 54(10), 1380-1383.
2. Risk and protective factors for psychological and behavioral outcomes following traumatic events. Studies examining military and civilian populations exposed to traumatic events have led to research that seeks to identify risk factors for adverse psychological and behavioral outcomes, including posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms, problematic alcohol use, and suicidal behaviors, as well as protective factors that promote resilience following trauma exposure.
a) Ursano, R.J., Kessler, R.C., Naifeh, J.A., Herberman Mash, H., Fullerton, C.S., Bliese, P.D., Zaslavsky, A.M., Ng, T.H.H., Aliaga, P.A., Wynn, G.H., Dinh, H.M., McCarroll, J.E., Sampson, N A., Kao, T.C., Schoenbaum, M., Heeringa, S.G., & Stein, M.B. (2017). Risk of suicide attempt among Soldiers in Army units with a history of suicide attempts. JAMA Psychiatry. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.1925
b) Ursano, R.J., Kessler, R.C., Stein, M.B., Naifeh, J.A., Aliaga, P.A., Fullerton, C.S., Wynn, G.H., Vegella P.L., Ng, T., Zhang, B.G., Wryter, C.L., Sampson N.A., Kao, T.C., Colpe, L.J., Schoenbaum, M., McCarroll J.E., Cox, K.L., & Heeringa, S., & on behalf of the Army STARRS collaborators (2016). Deployment, mental health, and suicide attempts among U.S. Army soldiers: Risk factors, methods, and time, JAMA Psychiatry, 73(7), 741-749. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0600
c) Fink, D.S., Lowe, S., Cohen, G.H., Sampson, L.A., Ursano, R.J., Gifford, R.K., Fullerton, C.S., & Galea, S. (2016). Trajectories of posttraumatic stress symptoms after civilian or deployment traumatic event experiences. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy, 9(2), 138-146. doi: 10.1037/tra0000147
d) Fullerton, C.S., Ursano, R.J., & Wang, L. (2004). Acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression in disaster or rescue workers. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 1370-1376,
3. Complicated grief in children, young adults and military families. This research examines characteristics of loss and factors such as the type of loss and extent of relatedness to the deceased, and features that define the relationship, e.g., level of depth and conflict within the relationship. These attachment characteristics may be predictive of adverse responses to loss, such as complicated grief and depressive symptoms. Importantly, one focus of the research is on young adults, an age group that has received relatively less attention in the bereavement literature. In addition, a longitudinal study examines wartime bereaved families and is one of the few empirical studies examining the DSM-5 diagnosis of Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder criteria in a community sample of bereaved military families.
a) Cozza, S.J., Fisher, J.E., Zhou, J., Harrington-LaMorie, J., LaFlair, L., Fullerton, C.S., & Ursano, R.J. (2017). Bereaved military dependent spouses and children: Those left behind in a decade of war (2001–2011). Military Medicine, 182, e1684-91. doi: 10.7205/milmed-d-16-00101.
b) Cozza, S.J., Fisher, J.E., Mauro, C., Zhou, J., Ortiz, C.D., Skritskaya, N., Wall, W.M., Fullerton, C.S., Ursano, R.J., & Shear, M.K. (2016). Performance of DSM-5 Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder Criteria in a community sample of bereaved military family members, American Journal of Psychiatry, 173(9), 919-29. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.15111442.
c) Mash, H.B. Herberman, Fullerton, C.S., Shear, M.K., & Ursano, R.J. (2014). Complicated grief and depression in young adults: Personality & relationship quality. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 202(7), 539-543.
d) Mash, H.B. Herberman, Fullerton, C.S., & Ursano, R.J. (2013). Complicated grief and bereavement in young adults following close friend and sibling loss. Depression and Anxiety, 30(12), 1202-1210.
4. Translating empirical findings to recommendations for intervention. CSTS laboratory and clinical research actively identifies effective interventions for trauma and stress-related disorders including suicidal behaviors, child neglect and health risk behaviors.
a) Fullerton, C.S., McCarroll, J.E., Feerick, M., McKibben, J., Cozza, S., Ursano, R.J., & Child Neglect Workgroup. (2011). Child neglect in Army families: A public health perspective. Military Medicine; 176(12), 1432-1439.
b) Ursano, R.J., Goldenberg, M., Zhang, L., Carlton, J., Fullerton, C.S., Li, H., Johnson, L., & Benedek, D.M. (2010). Posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic stress: From bench to bedside, from war to disaster. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1208, 72-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05721.x
c) Fullerton, C.S., Reissman, D.B., Gray, C., Flynn, B.W. & Ursano, R.J: (2010). Earthquake response and psychosocial health outcomes: Applying lessons from integrating systems of care and recovery to Haiti. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 4(1), 15-17.
d) Ursano, R.J., Zhang, L., Li, H., Johnson, L., Carlton, J., Fullerton, C.S. & Benedek, D.M. (2009). PTSD and traumatic stress from gene to community and bench to bedside. Brain Research, 1293, 2-12.
5. Suicidal behaviors. Army STARRS (2009-2015) and STARRS-LS (2014-2019), the largest research studies ever conducted among military personnel, were designed to comprehensively examine the mental health and resilience of Soldiers. One of the studies was an historical cohort study of more than 1.6 million Soldiers on active duty from 2004-2009. The Army STARRS/STARRS-LS research includes questionnaires, neurocognitive tests, blood collection, state-of-the-art genetic and other biomarker assays, and linking these data to existing Army/DoD records, producing large and risk datasets to serve the goals of the study as well as broader goals involving other mental health outcomes.
a). Kessler, R.C., Stein, M.B., Petukhova, M.V., Bliese, P., Bossarte, R.M., Bromet, E.J., Fullerton, C.S., Gilman, S.E., Ivany, C., Lewandowski-Romps, L., Bell, A.M., Naifeh, J.A., Nock, M.K., Reis, B.Y., Rosellini, A.J., Sampson, N.A., Zaslavsky, A.M., Ursano, R.J., & Army STARRS Collaborators (2017). Predicting suicides after outpatient mental health visits in the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS). Molecular Psychiatry, 22(4), 544-551. doi: 10.1038/mp.2016.110
b) Ursano, R.J., Kessler, R.C., Stein, M.B., Naifeh, J.A., Nock, M.K., Aliaga, P.A., Fullerton, C.S., Wynn, G.H., Ng, T. H.H., Dinh, H.M., Sampson, N.A., Kao, T.C., Schoenbaum, M., McCarroll, J.E., Cox, K. L., & Heeringa, S.G., on behalf of the Army STARRS collaborators (2016). Medically documented suicide ideation among U.S. Army Soldiers. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior. doi: 10.1111/stlb.12316
c) Ursano, R.J., Kessler, R.C., Herringa, S.G., Cox, K.L., Naifeh, J.A., Fullerton, C.S., Sampson, N.A., Kao, T., Aliaga, P.A., Vegella, P.A., Mash, H., Buckley, C., Colpe, L.J., Schoenbaum, M., & Stein, M. B. (2015). Non-fatal suicidal behaviors in U.S. Army administrative records, 2004-2009: Results from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS). Psychiatry, 78(1), 1-21. doi: 10.1080/00332747.2015.1006512
d) Nock, M.K., Stein, M.B., Heeringa, S.G., Ursano, R.J., Colpe, L.J., Fullerton, C.S., Hwang, I., Naifeh, J.A., Sampson, N.A., Schoenbaum, M., Zaslavsky, A.M., & Kessler, R.C. (2014). Prevalence and correlates of suicidal behavior among soldiers: Results from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS). JAMA Psychiatry, 71(5), 514-522.