Dr. Johnson, co-authors look at social determinants of health

Spotlight on SOE faculty and doctoral student research

Starting from left: Kaprea Johnson, Ph.D., and Dana Brookover, doctoral student.
From left: Dr. Kaprea Johnson and doctoral student Dana Brookover.

The amount of knowledge being generated by VCU School of Education faculty in published research goes beyond merely enhancing the school’s reputation – it is helping to shape the future of education itself. One recent example of this is the study below, co-authored by Dr. Kaprea Johnson, associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education, and doctoral student Dana Brookover, which looks at social health needs and promotive health factors through the lens of a newly developed scale.


Dr. Kaprea Johnson, with her student Dana Brookover, a doctoral student in the VCU School of Education’s Ph.D. in Education, Concentration in Counselor Education and Supervision program, and co-author Keighly Bradbrook, developed a measure of social determinants of health for college students called The LIFESCREEN-C (TLS-C). This screening tool was developed to enhance the ability of university personnel to identify students who are at risk for the most prevalent social health (e.g., mental wellness and lack of social support) problems in this population. The authors used surveys completed by 226 students from two universities to gather both general health and wellness information and college-student specific information related to academic achievement, suicidality, risky behavior, depression, anxiety and overall social health needs.

Understanding the impact of social health for college students’ well-being is more important than ever. The results of this study showed that poor student physical health was related to more social health needs while better physical health was related to promotive social health factors such as social support and physical activity. The results also showed that students who identified social health needs were more likely to have college-specific social health needs, such as social support and worry over student loan debt, which impact factors like academic achievement and mental health. The TLS-C can be used by college and university practitioners to initially screen students who may be at risk for poor health and needs for which they can provide additional resources, including counseling and care coordination, if necessary.


Johnson, K.F., Brookover, D.L., & Bradbrook, K. (2020). Social health needs and promotive health factors scale for college students: Scale development and initial validation. Journal of American College Health, DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2020.1725021