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James R. Muruthi, PhD

Contact Information

James R. Muruthi


Assistant Professor

Counseling and Family Therapy Department

Before joining Drexel University, James Muruthi, PhD, was an assistant professor of Family and Human Services at the University of Oregon. Muruthi specializes in family aging, health and wellness. His main research interests are family and neighborhood factors, social capital and health disparities among aging marginalized individuals. His research program uses a wide range of mixed methods to understand how to leverage capital (human and social) to alleviate poor health among marginalized older people (mainly Blacks) and their families. Critical to Muruthi’s research is using strength-based perspectives to enhance the health of traditionally understudied aging individuals, including rural settlers, African families, low-income individuals and gender and sexual minorities. Ultimately, his research program aims to inform the development and evaluation of community-specific instruments, theories and interventions for better health and well-being in marginalized people and their families.

His active research activities include:

  • Psychological distress and poverty among rural Kenyans – funded by the Mental Health Research Institute.
  • Syndemics and health disparities in the Black population.
  • Family caregiving in Black and African families.
  • Alleviating poverty to reduce mental health problems in Kenya.

Muruthi runs a research group always looking for motivated students, especially outstanding writers with qualitative or quantitative expertise. He intentionally recruits students from less-represented groups, such as international, first-generation college, gender and sexual minorities and low-income students. International collaborations and fieldwork include Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Canada.

Selected Publications

  • Muruthi, J.R., Muruthi, B.A., *Thompson-Cañas, R. E., *Romero, L., *Taiwo, A., Ehlinger, P.P. (2022, Online). Daily discrimination, church support, personal mastery, and psychological distress in Black people in the U.S., Ethnicity & Health, Advance Online Publication.
  • Muruthi, J.R., *Green A., *Ehlinger P. P., *Osa, M. L., & Yang, D. (2021). Sociodemographic, health and caregiving patterns of aging caregivers in Oregon: Gender comparisons and the role of leisure activities. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 914150211040458. 94(3), 362-382.
  • Muruthi, J.R., *Spafford S. G., *Osa, M. L., *DeLouize, A., Kowal, P., Biritwum. R., & Snodgrass, J. J. (2021). Suicidal ideation in older Ghanaian women: The roles of bodily pain, functional limitation, and chronic health conditions. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 68(3), 555-563.
  • Muruthi, J.R., Dolbin-MacNab, M. L., & Jarrott, S. E. (2021). Social capital among Black South African grandmothers raising grandchildren: A qualitative study of bridging, bonding, and linking capitals. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 40(10), 1280–1287.
  • Muruthi, J.R., *Zalla, L. C., & Lewis, D. C., (2020). Depressive symptoms among aging Hispanic Americans: Longitudinal effects of positive spousal support and previous depressive symptoms. Journal of Aging and Health, 32(5–6) ,481-490.

Professional Society

  • Gerontological Society of America
  • National Council of Family Relationships
  • Human Biology Association
  • Kenyan Scholars & Studies Association

Grant Participation

  • Chronic poverty, support, and psychological distress among older Kenyans
    Mental health Research Institute
    Principal Investigator: Muruthi, J.R.
    Submitted 2021: $ 25,000.
    Goal: To investigate the independent and combined effects of the structure, quality, and functions of informal support on the psychological health of aging Kenyans.
  • Disaster communication and preparedness among middle age and older Latino migrants and seasonal farmworkers in Western Oregon.
    University of Oregon, Science Communication Research Small Grant
    Principal Investigator: Muruthi, J.R.
    Feb 2021 – Feb 2022, $3,000.
    Goal: (1) To investigate wildfire disaster communication for and amongst Latinx migrant and seasonal farmworkers in Oregon, (2) Assess community-based communication resources in times of crisis.
  • Developing a user-centered method for collecting routine caregiving and health behavior data from caregivers of older adults.
    University of Oregon, Counseling Psychology and Human Services Faculty Research Grant
    Principal Investigator: Muruthi, J.R., Co-Principal Investigator: Shune, S.
    June 2020 – June 2021, $ 5,000.
    Goal: To develop a caregiving-friendly method for collecting routine caregiving and health behavior data.
  • Secondary data analysis of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in older Oregonian Caregivers: Gender differences and the impact of social support.
    University of Oregon, Faculty Research Award
    Principal Investigator: Muruthi, J.R.
    May 2020 – Sept. 2020, $7,000
    Goals: (1) Developing a health and demographic profile of aging Oregon caregivers, and (2) depicting health behaviors and the impacts of social support.

Research Interests

Research interests are (a) impacts of naturally occurring social networks on the health of aging individuals and their families, (b) health-promoting and adverse health behaviors, and (c) the development and evaluation of community-informed frameworks and interventions for reducing health disparities among aging minorities. Teaching interests include family and human development and aging, family theories, minority health disparities, global health and diversity courses.

  • Post-Doctoral training completed at Virginia Tech, VA in May 2019.
    Major area of study: Human Development and Family Studies.
  • Doctor of Philosophy completed at the University of Georgia in May 2017.
    Major area of study: Human Development and Family Science.
  • Masters of Arts completed at Miami University, OH in May 2012.
    Major area of study: Gerontology.
  • Bachelors of Arts completed at Miami University in May 2010.
    Majors: Gerontology and Interdisciplinary Studies.