Debra L. Brucker, Research Assistant Professor

Debra Brucker

Research Associate Professor
Phone: (603) 862-4320
Office: Institute on Disability, 10 West Edge Drive, Durham, NH 03824

As a research associate professor, Dr. Debra Brucker studies the economic, health and social well-being of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable populations. She has over 25 years of applied policy research experience and has held social and health policy research positions at academic institutions, research organizations, and state government agencies. Her recent research at UNH has focused on: 1) testing the efficacy of a job crafting intervention on improving employment outcomes for workers with disabilities; and, 2) identifying barriers to food security for persons with disabilities and older adults. She currently serves as Co-PI on a federally funded grant that is exploring how Long COVID has impacted living and working for people with disabilities (<a href="">…;), as Co-PI on a federally funded grant that trains the next generation of disability employment policy researchers (<a href=""></a&gt;), and as a co-investigator on the federally funded Disability Statistics and Demographics Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (<a href="……</a>). Dr. Brucker is an elected member of the National Academy of Social Insurance.

As a research assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability, Dr. Debra Brucker uses national level survey data to measure the economic, health and social well-being of persons with disabilities. She has over 20 years of applied policy research experience and has held social and health policy research positions at academic institutions, research organizations, and state agencies. Her work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals including Social Science QuarterlyJournal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, and Journal of Disability Policy Studies.


Career Self-Management through Job Crafting for People with Physical and Mild Cognitive Disabilities

Dr. Vidya Sundar, Assistant Professor in Occupational Therapy, and Dr. Debra Brucker, Research Assistant Professor at the Institute on Disability, will partner with Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital Network, Marsh Brook Rehab and the UNH Office of Environmental Health and Safety to develop and test a new approach to assisting persons with disabilities to retain employment and seek opportunities for growth in the workplace.

Disability & Food Insecurity

While most people in the U.S. have adequate access to food, some persons experience food insecurity, lacking the money and resources to acquire the food necessary for active, healthy living. Little is known about how food security might influence economic and health outcomes for persons with disabilities. Led by Dr. Debra Brucker, The Disability and Food Insecurity project focuses on the intersection of access to food and disability status.

Disability Statistics and Demographics Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (StatsRRTC)

The mission of the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics (StatsRRTC) is to narrow and actively bridge the divide between the producers and end users of disability statistics, thereby supporting better data collection, more accurate information, better decision-making, more effective programs, and better lives for people with disabilities.

Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (EPM-RRTC)

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment Policy and Measurement (EPM-RRTC) is (a) investigating the impact of federal and state policies and programs on employment, paying particular attention to the effects of program interactions, (b) examining new ways of measuring employment outcomes, and (c) facilitating the translation of research findings to guide policymaking and program administration.


  • Ph.D., Resource Planning/Dev, Rutgers University
  • M.A., Public Administration, University of Delaware
  • B.A., Psychology, University of Delaware
  • B.A., Criminal Justice/Safety, University of Delaware

Research Interests

  • Public policy
  • Economics of Disability
  • Person With a Disability (Health/Safety/Medical)
  • Aging and life course
  • Food Assistance Programs
  • Food Security
  • Affordable Housing
  • Public Access Programs for People With Disabilities
  • Employment/Unemployment Studies

Selected Publications

  • Paul, S., & Brucker, D. L. (2023). Reasons for Not Working During the Coronavirus Pandemic Among Working-Age Persons With and Without Disabilities in the US.. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 104(12), 2019-2026. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2023.06.013

  • Brucker, D. L., Surfus, C., & Henly, M. (2023). Mental health experiences in 2021 for adults with disabilities who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.. Rehabil Psychol, 68(4), 374-384. doi:10.1037/rep0000511

  • Henly, M., Phillips, K. G., Smith, S. L., Kloza, E. M., & Brucker, D. L. (2023). Referral networks for pediatric patients with genetic conditions: The perspective of occupational therapists.. J Genet Couns, 32(5), 982-992. doi:10.1002/jgc4.1706

  • Forcino, R. C., Rotenberg, S., Morrissette, K. J., Godzik, C. M., Lichtenstein, J. D., Schiffelbein, J. E., . . . Lyons, K. D. (2023). Exploring Acceptability of Employment Interventions to Support People Living With Cancer: Qualitative Study of Cancer Survivors, Health Care Providers, and Employers.. JMIR Form Res, 7, e47263. doi:10.2196/47263

  • Brucker, D. L. (2023). Comparing effects of question set order and location within a survey instrument of two commonly used disability question sets among a U.S. population of adults.. Disabil Health J, 16(2), 101424. doi:10.1016/j.dhjo.2022.101424

  • Brucker, D. L., & Coleman-Jensen, A. (2017). Food Insecurity Across the Adult Life Span for Persons With Disabilities. JOURNAL OF DISABILITY POLICY STUDIES, 28(2), 109-118. doi:10.1177/1044207317710701

  • Sevak, P., Houtenville, A. J., Brucker, D. L., & O'Neill, J. (2015). Individual Characteristics and the Disability Employment Gap. JOURNAL OF DISABILITY POLICY STUDIES, 26(2), 80-88. doi:10.1177/1044207315585823

  • Brucker, D. L., & Houtenville, A. J. (2015). People With Disabilities in the United States. ARCHIVES OF PHYSICAL MEDICINE AND REHABILITATION, 96(5), 771-774. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2015.02.024

  • Brucker, D. L., Mitra, S., Chaitoo, N., & Mauro, J. (2015). More Likely to Be Poor Whatever the Measure: Working-Age Persons with Disabilities in the United States. SOCIAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY, 96(1), 273-296. doi:10.1111/ssqu.12098

  • Hagner, D., Kurtz, A., Cloutier, H., Arakelian, C., Brucker, D. L., & May, J. (2012). Outcomes of a Family-Centered Transition Process for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders. FOCUS ON AUTISM AND OTHER DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES, 27(1), 42-50. doi:10.1177/1088357611430841

  • Most Cited Publications