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Bruce Compas

Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair of Psychology and Human Development
Professor of Pediatrics
Investigator, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development

Bruce Compas is the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professsor of Psychology and Human Development, Professor of Pediatrics; Investigator, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research in Human Development; and Member of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. His research is focused on processes of coping and emotion-regulation in response to stress and adversity in children, adolescents, and adults. He is specifically interested in the relationships of coping and emotion-regulation with both physical health/illness and psychopathology, and the development of interventions to enhance the ways that individuals and families cope with stress. His research involves both laboratory methods to study basic behavioral and biological processes, and clinical research to understand coping and emotion-regulation in the context of psychopathology and physical illness. Current studies include (a) development and evaluation of the effects of a family cognitive-behavioral preventive intervention for children and adolescents coping with the effects of parental depression; (b) development and evaluation of a cognitive-behavioral intervention to enhance coping and communication in chidlren with cancer and their parents; (c) the effects of adversse childhood experiences (ACEs) on risk for psychopathology in adolescence; (d) neurocognitive and psychological function in patients with Huntington's disease and their families.  His research is funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), and generous gifts from Patricia and Rodes Hart and other anonymous donors.

Current research focuses on:

(1) Family Cognitive-Behavioral Prevention of Depression in Families of Depressed Parents (NIMH); (2) Parent-Child Communication and Coping with Pediatric Cancer (NCI); (3)  Neurocognitive Function in Children with Sickle Cell Disease (NICHD); (4) Enhancing Coping and Communication in Children with Cancer and Their Parents: A Novel Internet-Based Intervention (ALSF); (5) Affects of ACEs on risk for psychopathology in adolescence (NICHD); (6) Adolescents and Young Adults at Risk for Huntington's Disease.  

Lab Website

Representative Publications

  • Selected publications: 

  • Ciriegio, A.E., Pfalzer., A., Hale, L., McDonell, K.E., Claassen, D.O., & Compas, B.E. (2020, in press). Investigating the interplay of working memory, affective symptoms, and coping with stress in offspring of parents with Huntington’s disease. Neuropsychology.

  • Gruhn, M.A., & Compas, B.E. (2020, in press). Effects of maltreatment on coping and emotion regulation in childhood and adolescence: A meta-analytic review. Child Abuse & Neglect.

  • Prussien, K. V., Siciliano, R. E., Ciregio, A. E., Anderson, A. S., Sathanayagam, R., Jordan, L. C., DeBaun, M. R., & Compas, B. E. (2020). Correlates of cognitive function in sickle cell disease: A meta-analysis and systematic review of risks and consequences. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 45, 145-155.

  • Sharp, K.M.H., Fisher, R.S., Clark, O.E., Zackery D. O. Dunnells, Z.D.O., Murphy, L.K., Prussien, K.V., Vannatta, K., Compas, B.E., & Gerhardt, C.A. (2020). Long-term trajectories of depression symptoms in mothers of children with cancer. Health Psychology, 39, 89-98.

  • Henry, L.M., Steele, E.H., Watson, K.H., Bettis, A.H., Gruhn, M., Dunbar, J., Reising, M., & Compas, B.E. (2019, in press). Stress exposure and maternal depression as risk factors for symptoms of anxiety and depression in adolescents. Child Psychiatry & Human Development

  • Vreeland, A., Ebert, J.S., Kuhn, T.M., Gracey, K.A., Shaffer, A.M., Watson, K.H., Gruhn, M.A., Henry, L., Dickey, L., Siciliano, R.E., Anderson, A., & Compas, B.E. (2019, in press). Predictors of placement disruption in foster care. Child Abuse & Neglect.

  • Yarboi, J., Prussien, K.V., Bemis, H., Williams, E., Watson, K.H., McNally, C., Henry, L., King, A.A., DeBaun, M.R., & Compas, B.E. (2019, in press). Responsive parenting behaviors and cognitive function in children with sickle cell disease. Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

  • Fraley, C.E., Thigpen, J., Pearson, M., Kuttesch, J.F., Desjardins, L., Hoskinson, K.E., Alvarado-Gonzalez, A., Esbenshade, A.J., Pastakia, D., Friedman, D.L., Wellons, J.C., McNally, C.M., Siciliano, R.E., & Compas, B.E. (2019, in press). Predictors of cognitive function in pediatric brain tumor patients: Pre-surgery through 24-month follow-up.Applied Neuropsychology: Child.

  • Jordan, L.C., Siciliano, R.E., Coel, D.A., Lee, C.A., Patel, N.J., Murphy, L.K., Markham, L.K., Prussien, K.V., Gindville, M.C., & Compas, B.E. (2019, in press). ­­Cognitive training in children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome: A pilot randomized trial. Progress in Pediatric Cardiology.

  • Prussien, K.V., Jordan, L.C., DeBaun, M.R., & Compas, B.E. (2019, in press). Cognitive function in sickle cell disease across domains, cerebral infarct status and the lifespan: A meta-analysis. Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

  • Wier, R., Aleksonis, H. A., Pearson, M. M., Cannistraci, C. J., Anderson, A. W., Kuttesch, J. F., Compas, B. E., & Hoskinson, K. R. (2019, in press). Fronto-limbic white matter microstructure, behavior, and emotion regulation in survivors of pediatric brain tumor. Journal of Neuro-Oncology.

  • Siciliano, R.E., Prussien, K.V., Lee, C.A., Patel, N.J., Murphy, L.K., Compas, B.E., & Jordan, L.C. (2019, in press). Cognitive function in hypoplastic left heart syndrome in childhood and adolescence: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

  • Vreeland, A., Gruhn, M.A., Watson, K.H., Bettis, A.H., Forehand, R., Sullivan, A.D., & Compas, B.E. (2019, in press). Parenting in context: Associations of parental depression and socioeconomic factors with parenting behaviors. Journal of Child and Family Studies.

  • Bettis, A.H., Henry, L., Prussien, K.V., Vreeland, A., Smith, M., Adery, L.H., & Compas, B.E. (2019, in press). Laboratory and self-report methods to assess secondary control coping and emotion regulation in youth. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

  • Breslend, N.L., Parent, J., Forehand, R., Peisch, V. & Compas, B.E. (2019, in press). The impact of a family group cognitive-behavioral preventive intervention with families of depressed parents on youth social problems through reductions in child internalizing problems. Development and Psychopathology.

  • Prussien, K.V., DeBaun, M.R., Yarboi, J., Bemis, H., McNally, C., Williams, E., & Compas, B.E. (2019, in press).  Cognitive function, coping and depressive symptoms in children and adolescents with sickle cell disease.  Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

  • Prussien, K.V., Salihu, A., Abdullahi, S.U., Galadanci, N.A., Bulama, K., Belonwu, R.O., Kirkham, F.J., Yarboi, J., Bemis, H., DeBaun, M.R., & Compas, B.E. (2019). Associations of transcranial doppler velocity, age, and gender with cognitive function in children with sickle cell anemia in Nigeria.  Child Neuropsychology, 25, 705-720.

  • Henry, L.M., Forehand, R., Watson, K.H., Gruhn, M., Bettis, A.H., McKee, L.G., & Compas, B.E. (2018). Parental depressive symptoms and parenting: Associations with children’s coping in families of depressed parents. Parenting: Science and Practice, 18, 281-296.

  • Murphy, A.L., Rodriguez, E., Preacher, K., Rights, J., Bemis, H., Desjardins, L., … Compas, B.E. (2018). Maternal communication in childhood cancer: Factor analysis and relation to maternal distress. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 43, 1114-1127.

  • Prussien, K.V.,Murphy, L.K., Gerhardt, C.A., Vannatta, K., Bemis, H., Desjardins, L., Ferrante, A.C.,Shultz, E.L., B.S., Keim,M.C., B.A., Cole, D.A., & Compas, B.E. (2018). Longitudinal associations among maternal depressive symptoms, child emotional caretaking, and anxious/depressed symptoms in pediatric cancer. Journal of Family Psychology, 32, 1087-1096.

  • Bettis, A. H., Forehand, R., Sterba, S. K., Preacher, K. J., & Compas, B. E. (2018). Anxiety and depression in children of depressed parents: Dynamics of change in a preventive intervention. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology,47, 581-594.

  • Reising, M.M., Bettis, A.H., Dunbar, J.P., Watson, K.H., Gruhn, M., Hoskinson, K.R., & Compas, B.E. (2018). Stress, coping, executive function, and brain activation in adolescent offspring of depressed and non-depressed mothers.  Child Neuropsychology, 

  • Compas, B.E., Jaser, S.S., Bettis, A.H., Watson, K.H., Gruhn, M., Dunbar, J.P., Williams, E., & Thigpen, J.C. (2017). Coping, emotion regulation and psychopathology in childhood and adolescence: A meta-analytic and narrative review. Psychological Bulletin, 143, 939-991.

  • Compas, B.E., Jaser, S.S., Reeslund, K., Patel, N., & Yarboi, J. (2017). Neurocognitive deficits in children with chronic health conditions. American Psychologist, 72, 326-338.

  • Murphy, L.K., Compas, B.E., Reeslund, K.L., Glindville, M.C., Mah, M.L., Markham, L.W., & Jordan, L.C. (2017). Cognitive and attentional functioning in adolescents and young adults with tetralogy of fallott and d-transposition of the great arteries. Child Neuropsychology, 23, 99-110.
  • Murphy, L.K., Murray, C., & Compas, B.E. (2017). Topical Review: Integrating findings on direct observation of family communication: The impact of childhood chronic illness. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 42, 85-94.
  • Fields, M.E., Hoyt-Drazen, C., Abel, R., Rodeghier, M.J., Yarboi, J.M., Compas, B.E., & King, A.A. (2016, in press). A pilot study of parent education intervention improves early child development among toddlers with sickle cell disease. Pediatric Blood & Cancer.
  • Yarboi, J., Compas, B.E., Brody, G.H., White, D., Patterson, J.R., Ziara, K., & King, A. (2017). Association of social environmental factors with cognitive function in children with sickle cell disease. Child Neuropsychology, 23, 343-360. 
  • Murphy, L.K., Rodriguez, E.M., Gerhardt, C.A., Vannatta, K., Schwartz, L., Saylor, M., Bemis, H., Desjardins, L., & Compas, B.E. (2016). Longitudinal associations among maternal communication and adolescent posttraumatic stress symptoms after cancer diagnosis. Psycho-Oncology, 25, 779-786
  • Thigpen, J.C., Pearson, M., Robinson, K.E., Andreotti, C., Dunbar, J.P., Watson, K.H., Dejardins, L., Holmes, L., Byram, R., Fraley, C., & Compas, B.E. (2016). Pre-surgical assessment of cognitive function in pediatric brain tumor patients: Feasibility and initial findings. Neuro-Oncology Practice, 3, 261-267. 
  • Bettis, A.H., Forehand, R., McKee, L., Dunbar, J.P., Watson, K.H., & Compas, B.E. (2016). Testing specificity: Associations of stress and coping with symptoms of anxiety and depression in youth. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25, 949-958.
  • Gruhn, M.A., Dunbar, J.P., Watson, K.H., Reising, M.M., McKee, L., Forehand, R., Cole, D.A., & Compas, B.E. (2016). Testing specificity among parents' depressive symptoms, parenting, and child internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Journal of Family Psychology, 30, 309-319. 
  • Rodriguez, E.M., Murphy, L., Vannatta, K., Gerhardt, C.A., Young-Saleme, T., Saylor, M.M., Bemis, H., Desjardins, L., Dunn, M.J. & Compas, B.E. (2016). Maternal coping and depressive symptoms as predictors of mother-child communication about a child’s cancer. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 41, 329-339.
  • Compas, B.E., Forehand, R., Thigpen, J., Hardcastle, E., Garai, E., McKee, L., Keller, G., Dunbar, J.P., Watson, K.H., Rakow, A., Bettis, A.H., Reising, M., Cole, D.A., & Sterba, S. (2015). Efficacy and moderators of a family cognitive behavioral preventive intervention for children of depressed parents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83, 541-553.
  • Compas, B.E., Bemis, H., Gerhardt, C.A., Dunn, M.J., Rodriguez, E.M., Desjardins, L., Preacher, K.J., Manring, S., & Vannatta, K. (2015). Mothers and fathers coping with their child’s cancer: Individual and interpersonal processes.  Health Psychology, 34, 783-793.
  • Robinson, K.E., Pearson, M.M., Cannistraci, C.J., Anderson, A.W., Kuttesch, J.F., Wymer, K., Smith, S.E., Park, S., & Compas, B.E. (2015). Functional neuroimaging of working memory in survivors of childhood brain tumors and healthy children: Associations with coping and psychosocial outcomes. Child Neuropsychology, 21, 779-802.
  • Bemis, H., Yarboi, J., Gerhardt, C.A., Vannatta, K., Desjardins, L., Murphy, L., Rodriguez, E., & Compas, B.E. (2015). Childhood cancer in context: Sociodemographic factors and psychological adjustment among mothers and children. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 40, 733-743.
  • Andreotti, C., Root, J.C., Ahles, T.A., McEwen, B.S., & Compas, B.E. (2015).  Cancer, coping, and cognition: A model for the role of stress reactivity in cancer-related cognitive decline.  Psycho-Oncology, 24, 617-623.
  • Howell, K.H., Kaplow, J.B., Layne, C.M., Benson, M.A., Compas, B.E., Katalinski, R., Pasalic, H., Bosankic, N., & Pynoos, R. (2015). Predicting adolescent posttraumatic stress in the aftermath of war: Differential effects of coping strategies across trauma reminder, loss reminder, and family conflict domains. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 28, 88-104.
  • Gress-Smith, J.L., Roubinov, D.S., Andreotti, C., Compas, B.E., & Luecken, L.J. (2015). Prevalence, severity and risk factors for depressive symptoms and insomnia in college undergraduates.  Stress and Health, 31, 63-70. 
  • Andreotti, C., Garrard, P., Venkatraman, S.L., & Compas, B.E. (2015). Stress-related changes in attentional bias to social threat in young adults: Psychobiological associations with the early family environment. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 39, 332-342.
  • Andreotti, C., King, A., Macy, E., Compas, B.E., & DeBaun, M.R. (2015). The association of cytokine levels with cognitive function in children with sickle cell disease and normal MRI studies of the brain. Journal of Child Neurology, 30, 1349-1353. 
  • Parent, J., Forehand, R., Dunbar, J.P., Watson, K.H., Reising, M.M., Seehuus, M., & Compas, B.E. (2014).  Parent and adolescent reports of parenting when a parent has a history of depression:  Associations with direct observations of parenting. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 42, 173-183.
  • McKee, L.G, Parent, J., Forehand. R., Rakow, A., Watson, K.H., Dunbar, J.P., Reising, M.M., Hardcalstle, E., & Compas, B.E. (2014). Reducing youth internalizing symptoms: Effects of a family-based preventive intervention on parental guilt induction and youth cognitive style.  Development and Psychopathology, 26, 319-332.
  • King, A.A., Strouse, J.J., Rodeghier, M.J., Compas, B.E., Casella, J.F., McKinstry, R.C., Noetzel, M.J., Quinn, C.T., Ichord, R., Dowling, M.M., Miller, J.P., & DeBaun, M.R. (2014). Parent education and biologic factors influence on cognition in sickle cell anemia. American Journal of Hematology, 89, 162-167.
  • Compas, B.E., Jaser, S.S., Dunbar, J.P., Watson, K.H., Bettis, A.H., Gruhn, M., & Williams, E. (2014). Coping and emotion regulation from childhood to early adulthood: Points of convergence and divergence.  Australian Journal of Psychology, 66, 71–81. 
  • Sterba, S.K., Preacher, K.J., Hardcastle, E.J., Forehand, R., Cole, D.A., & Compas, B.E. (2014). Structural equation modeling approaches for analyzing partially nested data. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 49, 93-118.
  • Watson, K.H., Dunbar, J.P., Reising, M.M., Hudson, K., Forehand, R., & Compas, B.E. (2014). Observed parental responsiveness/warmth and children’s coping: Cross-sectional and prospective relations in a family depression preventive intervention.  Journal of Family Psychology, 28, 278-286.
  • Compas, B.E., Desjardins, L., Vannatta, K., Young-Saleme, T., Rodriguez, E.M., Dunn, M., Bemis, H., Snyder, S., & Gerhardt, C.A. (2014). Children and adolescents coping with cancer: Self- and parent-reports of coping and anxiety/depression. Health Psychology, 33, 853-861.
  • Robinson, K.E., Pearson, M.M., Cannistraci, C.J., Anderson, A.W., Kuttesch, J.F., Wymer, K., Smith, S.E., & Compas, B.E. (2014). Neuroimaging of executive function in survivors of pediatric brain tumors and healthy controls.  Neuropsychology, 28, 791-800.
  • Rodriguez, E.M., Dunn, M.J., Zuckerman, T., Vannatta, K., Gerhardt, C.A., & Compas, B.E. (2013). Cancer-related sources of stress for children with cancer and their parents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 38, 732-743.
  • AndreottiC., Thigpen, J.E., Dunn, M.J., Watson, K.H., Potts, J., Reising, M.M., Robinson, K.E., Rodriguez, E.M., Roubinov, D.M., Luecken, L. & Compas, B.E. (2013). Cognitive reappraisal and secondary control coping: Associations with working memory, positive and negative affect, and symptoms of anxiety/depression.  Anxiety, Stress and Coping, 26, 20-35.
  • Robinson, K.E., Fraley, C.E., Pearson, M., Kuttesch, J.F., & Compas, B.E (2013). Neurocognitive late effects of pediatric brain tumors of the posterior fossa: A quantitative meta-analysis. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 19, 44-53.
  • Compas, B.E., Jaser, S.S., Dunn, M.J., & Rodriguez, E.M. (2012). Coping with chronic illness in childhood and adolescence. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 8, 455-480.
  • Dunn, M.J., Rodriguez, E.M., Barnwell, A.S., Grossenbacher, J.C., Vannatta, K., Gerhardt, C.A., & Compas, B.E. (2012). Posttraumatic stress symptoms in parents of children with cancer within six months of diagnosis. Health Psychology, 31, 176-185.
  • Compas, B.E., Forehand, R., Thigpen, J.C., Keller, G., Hardcastle, E.J., Cole, D.A., Potts, J., Haker, K., Rakow, A., Colletti, C., Reeslund, K., Fear, J., Garai, E., McKee, L., Merchant, M.J., & Roberts, L. (2011). Family group cognitive-behavioral preventive intervention for families of depressed parents: 18- and 24-month outcomes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79, 488-499.
  • Robinson, K.E., Livesay, K.L., Campbell, L.K., Scaduto, M., Cannistraci, C.J., Anderson, A.W., Whitlock, J.A., & Compas, B.E. (2010). Working memory in survivors of childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia: Functional neuroimaging analyses. Pediatric Blood and Cancer, 54, 585-590.
  • Compas, B.E., Champion, J.E., Forehand, R., Cole, D.A., Reeslund, K.L., Fear, J., Hardcastle, J., Keller, G., Rakow, A., Garai, E., Merchant, M.J., & Roberts, L. (2010). Coping and Parenting: Mediators of 12-month outcomes of a family group cognitive-behavioral preventive intervention with families of depressed parents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 623-634.


  • Fellow, American Psychological Association
  • Charter Fellow, Association for Psychological Science
  • Ranked as 22nd Highest Impact Author in Psychology, Institute for Scientific Information, 1986-1990
  • University Scholar Award, University of Vermont, 1994
  • Celebration of Excellence Award, Pizzagalli Corporation, 2001.
  • Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor, Vanderbilt University, 2011