Michael C. Roberts, Ph.D., ABPP

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  • Fellow, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre

Contact Info


Background and Professional Interests

I am Professor and Director of the Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Kansas. I graduated from Purdue University in clinical psychology with a specialization in clinical child psychology and interned at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (Oklahoma Children’s Memorial Hospital). Prior to the last 17 years at the University of Kansas, I was on the faculty of the University of Alabama.

Research Interests

A significant initiative for the next several years will be working with the World Health Organziation on the revision of the Mental and Behavioural Disorders chapter of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). This work, in particular, will help develop a taxonomy of mental and behavioral disorders for children and adolescents and definitional criteria for clinical and research purposes. My research team is reviewing and synthesizing relevant scientific literature on childhood and adolescent psychological (mental) disorders. The ICD revision will include designing, conducting, and analyzing data collected in field trials. This taxonomy of physical and mental disorders is the most widely accepted system and is used internationally to classify human health conditions in a coding system and set definitional criteria for clinical and research purposes. In addition to this work with the WHO on the ICD revision, my ongoing research activities have been focused on general issues in clinical child and pediatric psychology, psychotherapeutic outcomes, program evaluation, and professional issues, including ethics and training. Previously and with some continuing projects, this work has focused on prevention, especially injury control. More specific areas of work include:

  • children's and parents' perceptions of pediatric and psychological conditions and treatments; treatment adherence issues;
  • program evaluation and mental health service delivery (psychotherapeutic outcomes);
  • positive psychology and children's development, especially hope and benefit finding
  • prevention of injuries in children and health promotion;
  • effects of traumatic effects and mitigation of problems following natural and human made disasters (stress, coping, and resilience), including interpersonal violence.

My publication list includes close to 200 journal articles, book chapters, and books revolving around the application of psychology to understanding and influencing children’s physical and mental health.

Why I chose to be engaged in this work/How I came to be engaged in this work

I firmly believe in the scientist-practitioner orientation to approaching development and problems of childhood. This orientation requires an empirical research perspective focusing on the real world situations of children and adolescents, including their positive development and problems affecting both psychological and physical health. This approach has guided my research and professional activities in ways that I could not have envisioned during my graduate training or early career. It has been an invigorating life of learning, discovery, and, I hope, contributions to the health and well-being of children and their families.

Description of the work I am engaged in

I have an eclectic research team of graduate and undergraduate students with a diversity of interests. We have current projects on such phenomena as peanut allergies and family adjustment; meta-analyses of adherence to medication regimens for acute and chronic illnesses; family conflict, community violence, and adolescents’ depressive symptoms; acceptability of weight loss interventions; social support and family stress; program evaluations of family medicine and outpatient pediatric clinics; evaluations of summer camps for children with sickle cell disease and cancer and a dance camp for inner city at risk for developing psychosocial problems. The work with the WHO and the revision of the International Classification of Diseases represents an opportunity to participate in a larger domain and involve students in the scientific data underlying the diagnostic codes and implementation of the ICD in multiple settings in clinical settings, research investigations, teaching and training of professionals, and public health activities. More information on our work can be found on the website of the Clinical Child Psychology Program.