Linda D. Oakley, PhD, RN

Position title: Louis J. and Phyllis Clark Jacobs Professor in Mental Health


Phone: 608-263-5866

4171 Signe Skott Cooper Hall

photo of Linda Oakley

PhD, University of Washington; Nursing Science
Post-Doc, University of California, San Francisco; RWJ Clinical Nurse Scholar
MS, Boston University; Psychiatric Nursing
BS, California State University, Chico; Nursing

The focus of my current research is to improve the assessment of structural racialization as a chronic stressor and social determinant in the high rates of hypertension and related morbidity observed in marginalized Black communities. Our research is guided by the American Heart Association’s (AHA, 2022) recent conceptualization of cardiovascular health and the call for health promotion strategies that are designed to implement the eight essentials of cardiovascular health. Our goal is to develop, test, and implement a real-world health promotion strategy that can improve cardiovascular health by improving health responses to the major chronic stressors that Black adults face. My current research aim is to contribute to the development of explanatory nursing models that can address the impact of structural racialization on Black cardiovascular health. Our early studies of the health effects of marginalization included low-income adults coping with schizophrenia and recurring episodes of psychosis, the effects of guilt and depression in post-stroke adults, working women parenting minor-age children who receive public assistant, and despair and depression in school-age children in rural Thailand. My long-standing community partnership with the South Madison Black community includes urban immersion learning experiences for undergraduate nursing students and training new mental health professionals. My academic practice as a Board-Certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner has ranged from primary care to residential care and, most recently, to a partnership with public health nurses developing health programs for distressed communities. As a senior professor, I mentor nursing PhD students, undergraduate nursing students, MPH students, and post-doctoral fellows. My recent academic and professional service includes faculty co-chair of the UW–Madison campus diversity and climate committee and appointment to the SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Board in nursing.

Research focus area

  • Aim: To improve health by promoting wellbeing
  • Population: Historically colonized, marginalized communities with high rates of morbidity and mortality and significantly reduced life expectancy at birth
  • Model: American Heart Association’s (AHA) refocused approach to cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension, emphasizes psychological health, health essentials, and the  impact of structural-systemic inequities on morbidity
  • Current research: Survey, assessment, and interview methods are used to define and test AHA health essentials, psychological health and wellbeing in a marginalized community of Black adults with high rates of morbidity associated with early onset hypertension

Mental Health & Substance Use

Learn more about Dr. Oakley’s research

UW–Madison Experts DataBase Profile