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Cleveland Shields, PhD

Research Interests

Families and health, healthcare, couple and family interventions in health, patient-centered care in medical settings, couples and cancer, interventions for couples returning from military deployment


Dr. Shields has recently received support from the National Institutes of Health to examine physician-patient communication. Dr. Shields and Dr. Melissa Franks are also studying patient-spouse communication during medical visits for managing Type 2 diabetes.

Selected Publications

  • Alexander, S. C., Fortenberry, J. D., Pollak, K. I., Bravender, T., Ostbye, T., Shields, C. G. (in press). Physicians use of inclusive language during teenage annual visits. LGBT Health.
  • Dong, S., Butow, P. N., Costa, D. S. J., Dhillon, H., & Shields, C. G. (in press).The influence of patient-centered communication during radiotherapy education sessions on post-consultation patient outcomes. Patient Education and Counseling.
  • Alexander, S. C., Fortenberry, J. D., Pollak, K. I., Bravender, T., Davis, J. K., Ostbye, T., Tulsky, J. A., Dolor, R. J., & Shields, C. G. (2014). Sexuality talk during adolescent health maintenance visits. JAMA Pediatrics, 168(2), 163-169. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4338
  • Edwardsen, E. A., Reis, S., Morse, D. S., Gurnsey, M. G., Taupin, A., Shields, C. G., Griggs, J., & McDaniel, S. H.  (2013). Physician dialogues with advanced cancer patients: Mostly patient-friendly but often physician-directed. European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare, 1(1).
  • McDaniel, S. H., Morse, D. S., Edwardsen, E. A., Gurnsey, M. G., Taupin, A., Griggs, J. J., & Shields, C. G. (2013). Physicians criticizing physicians to patients. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 28(11), 1405-1409. doi:10.1007/s11606-013-2499-9
  • Shields, C. G., Finley, M. A.*, Elias, C. M.*, Coker, C. J.*, Griggs, J. J., Fiscella, K., & Epstein, R. M. (2013). Pain assessment: The roles of physician certainty and curiosity. Health Communication, 28(7), 740-746. doi:10.1080/10410236.2012.715380
  • Franks, M. M., Sahin, Z. S., Seidel, A. J., Shields, C. G., Oates, S. K., & Boushey, C. J. (2012). Table for two: Diabetes distress and diet-related interactions of married patients with type 2 diabetes and their spouses. Families, Systems, & Health, 30, 154-165. 
  • Shields, C. G., Finley, M. A*., & Chawla, N.*, & Meadors, P. (2012). Couple and family interventions in health problems.  Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 265-280. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00269.x 
  • Franks, M. M., Shields, C. G., Sands, L., Lim, E., Mobley, S., & Boushey, C. J. (2011). I will if you will: Similarity in health behavior change of married partners. Health, Education, & Behavior, 39, 324-331. doi:10/1177/1090198111402824 
  • Shields, C. G., Ziner, K. W., Bourff, S. A., Schilling, K., Zhao, Q., Monahan, P., Sledge, G., & Champion, V. (2010). An intervention to improve communication between breast cancer survivors and their physicians. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 28(6), 610-629. DOI:10.1080/07347332.2010.516811
  • Shields, C. G., Coker, C. J.*, Poulsen, S. S.*, Doyle, J. M.*, Fiscella, K., Epstein, R. M., & Griggs, J. J. (2009). Patient-centered communication and prognosis discussions with cancer patients. Patient Education and Counseling, 57, 437-442. 
  • Rosenberg, Tziporah, & Shields, C.G. (2009). The role of parent-adolescent attachment in the glycemic control of adolescents with Type 1 diabetes: A pilot study. Family Systems and Health, 27, 237-248.
  • Epstein, R. M., Hadee, T., Carroll, J., Meldrum, S. C., Lardner, J., & Shields, C. G. (2007). "Could this be something serious?" Reassurance, uncertainty and empathy in response to patients' expressions of worry. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 22, 1731-1739.
  • Griggs, J. J., Sorbero, M. E. S., Mallinger, J. B., Quinn, M., Waterman, M., Brooks, B., & Shields, C. G. (2007). Vitality, mental health, and satisfaction with information after breast cancer. Patient Education and Counseling, 66, 58-66.
  • Epstein, R. M., Shields, C. G., Franks, P., Meldrum, S. C., Feldman, M., & Kravitz, R. L. (2007). Exploring and validating patient concerns: Relation to prescribing for depression. Annals of Family Medicine, 5, 21-28.
  • Duberstein, P., Meldrum, S., Fiscella, K., Shields, C. G., & Epstein, R. M. (2007). Influences on patients' ratings of physicians: Physicians' demographics and personality. Patient Education and Counseling, 65, 270-274.
  • Burwell, S. R., Brucker, P., & Shields, C. G. (2006). Attachment behaviors and proximity-seeking in cancer patients and their partners. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 5, 1-16.
  • Mallinger, J. B., Shields, C. G., Griggs, J. J., Roscoe, J. A., Morrow, G. R., & Rosenbluth, R. J. (2006). Stability of decisional role preference over the course of cancer therapy. Psycho-Oncology, 15, 297-305.
  • Mallinger, J. B., Griggs, J. J., & Shields, C. G. (2006). Family communication and mental health after breast cancer. European Journal of Cancer Care, 15, 355-361.
  • Franks, P., Jerant, A. F., Fiscella, K., Shields, C. G., Tancredi, D. J., & Epstein, R. M. (2006). Studying physician effects on patient outcomes: Physician interactional style and performance on quality of care indicators. Social Science & Medicine, 62, 422-432.
  • Epstein, R. M., Shields, C. G., Meldrum, S. C., Fiscella, K., Carroll, J., & Carney, P. A. (2006). Physicians' responses to patients' medically unexplained symptoms. Psychosomatic Medicine, 68, 269-276.
  • Bayer, W., Mallinger, J. B., Krishnan, A., Shields, C. G. (2006). Attitudes toward life-sustaining interventions among ambulatory black and white patients. Ethnicity and Disease, 16, 915-920.


  • Post Doctoral Training, 1987-90, Family Therapy Training Program, Division of Family Programs, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester
  • PhD, 1987, Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Purdue University
  • MDiv, 1980, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC
  • BS, 1976, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA

Courses Recently Taught

  • HDFS 688: Internship in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • HDFS 678: Externship in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • HDFS 685E: Interventions in Families and Health
  • HDFS 685F: Families and Health
  • HDFS 430: Human Sexuality and Family Life


  • 2005, 2006: Susan H. McDaniel Graduate Teaching Award, Awarded by Graduate Students in the Marriage & Family Therapy Masters Degree Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester

External Grants

  • 2011-2016, Co-Investigator, National Cancer Institute, "Social and behavioral influences on clinical communication and pain management." $2,700,000.
  • 2010-2011, Co-Investigator, Purdue Research Foundation, Purdue University, "Following doctor's orders: Does patient and spouse communication with healthcare providers improve dietary adherence among patients with diabetes?" $16,795.
  • 2009-2010, Co-Investigator, Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, Purdue University, "Following doctor's orders: Does patient and spouse communication with healthcare providers improve dietary adherence among patients with diabetes?" $39,900.
  • 2007-2009, Principal Investigator, National Cancer Institute, "Responses of Physicians to Patients' Inquiries." $330,434.

Professional Service

New York Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

  • 1992-1993 Member-at-Large, Board of Directors
  • 1993-2003 Member, Legislative Task Force
  • 1994-1995 President-Elect, Board of Directors
  • 1996-1997 President, Board of Directors
  • 1997-1998 Past President, Board of Directors