Denise Fyffe, PhD

Head shot of Denise Fyffe

Senior Research Scientist

Health Equity in Disability and Outcomes Research Laboratory

Denise C. Fyffe, PhD, is Senior Research Scientist in the Centers for Spinal Cord Injury Research and Outcomes and Assessment Research at Kessler Foundation. Dr. Fyffe is also director of the Health Equity in Disability and Outcomes Research Laboratory and a co-investigator in the federally funded model system based at Kessler - the Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury System. Dr. Fyffe received her PhD in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University in 2000. She completed postdoctoral training in geriatric mental health at the Weill Cornell Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry followed by additional training in cancer disparities from the Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She is a research assistant professor at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and a leader in the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM), serving as Chair-elect of ACRM’s SCI Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group (SCI-ISIG).

Qualitative Research
Mixed Methods Research
Social Determinants of Health
Health disparities
Health inequities
PhD - Hofstra University
Awarded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Muscloskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIMAS)
Research Interests

Her current clinical and research interests focus on reducing disparities in the care and quality of life of medically underserved rehabilitation groups. Dr. Fyffe is involved in the development of a quality of life (QOL) measure for use in spinal cord injury and innovative interventions to improve outcomes for persons with SCI using the National SCI Model Systems (SCIMS) database. Her research also includes investigation of the demographic, sociocultural, and clinical factors associated with disparities in functional outcomes among individuals living with spinal cord injury.

Dr. Fyffe has led and collaborated on several projects funded by the Department of Defense, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, Spinal Cord Injury Research Program (SCIRP), using mixed-methods approaches to examine socioeconomic issues related to clinical outcomes (PI: Fyffe), the use of clinical video technology in the use of healthcare (PI: Gibson-Gill) and striving to work among Veterans living with an SCI (PI: O’Neill).


View comprehensive listings of Dr. Fyffe’s publications at ResearchGate and PubMed

  • W81XWH-17-1-0696 SC160165/Log Number
    (PI: O’Neill) 9/30/17 – 9/29/20
    Striving to Work and Overcoming Employment Barriers among Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury Role: Co-Investigator
    Specific Aims: The major goals of this project are to use qualitative research methods to 1) examine how Veterans with SCI strive to work and overcome employment barriers and 2) compare ways in which Veterans with SCI treated in the VHA and SCIMS strive to work and overcome employment barriers.
  • W81XWH-17-1-0262
    SC160198/Log Number (PI: Gill) 7/15/17 – 7/14/20
    Triangle of Healthy Caregiving for Spinal Cord Injured Veterans
    Role: Co-Investigator
    Specific Aims: The major goals of this project are to qualitatively assess the acceptability and utilization of the “Triangle of Healthy Caregiving for SCI Veterans” intervention with SCI Veterans, caregivers, and healthcare teams to modify, improve, and refine this intervention, accordingly.
  • 90SI5026 (PI: Dyson-Hudson) 9/30/16 – 9/29/21
    Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury Model System: 2016-2021
    Role on Project: Co-Investigator
    Specific Aims: The NNJSCIS provides a comprehensive continuum of state-of-the-art care for persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) and their families from the time of injury through rehabilitation and return to the community.
  • 367686 (Prime Award No) (PI: Kisala) 4/30/16 – 4/30/19
    Craig H. Neilsen Foundation via Subaward from University of Delaware
    Clinical Adaptation of the SCI-QOL Psychosocial Measures
    Role on Project: Co-Investigator
    Specific Aims: The goal is to establish clinically relevant scoring standards for four Spinal Cord Injury – Quality of Life (SCI-QOL) psychosocial item banks and establish external validity of the Depression and Anxiety psychosocial banks.
  • W81XWH-15-1-0278 (PI: Fyffe) 7/30/15 – 7/29/19 3.6 CM (30%)
    Spinal Cord Injury Veterans: Disability Benefits, Outcomes, and Healthcare Utilization Patterns
    Role on Project: Principal Investigator
    Specific Aims: The project’s specific aims are to (1) describe the reasons SCI veterans seek SC versus non-SC disability compensation and the factors that influence their choice; (2) explore the impact of SC and non-SC disability benefits on health status, functional outcomes, quality of life, and medical decisions (e.g., choice of VA SCI Center versus private sector); (3) explore the impact of service connection disability benefits on the family caregivers and households of veterans with SCI; (4) explore SCI clinicians’ perspectives on the impact of SC and non-SC disability compensation with respect to the provision of adequate long-term health care and rehabilitation; and (5) develop practice and policy recommendations to address SC and non-SC disability compensation for family interventions, caregiver training, and patient education programs.
  • 434187 (PI: Fyffe) 4/1/17 – 3/31/20
    Craig H. Neilsen Foundation
    Exploring Racial/Ethnic Contextual Factors Associated with Functional Independence in SCI
    Role on Project: Principal Investigator
    Specific Aims: To explore racially/ethnically diverse persons with SCI perceptions and life experiences to identify the personal, cultural and contextual factors that may impact their engagement in functional independence activities.
  • 541934 (PI: Botticello) 4/30/18 – 4/29/21
    Craig H. Neilsen Foundation
    Mapping Activity Space to Understand the Context of Community Integration and Participation after SCI
    Role on Project: Principal Investigator
    Specific Aims: The goal of this proposed demonstration project is to build upon prior research on the environment and disability and obtain SCI consumers’ insights on the community context of CIP.
  • 90RTST0001 (Moore, PI) 9/30/18 – 9/29/23
    NIDILRR Subaward from
    Langston University
    A Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) that Empowers Minority Entities to Participate in R&D through Research Capacity Building
    The major goals of this project are: Provide mentoring to postdoctoral fellows and full time faculty from minority institutions to build capacity to conduct research in vocational rehabilitation. Role: Co-I