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Ni Gao, PhD

My interests in psychiatric rehabilitation research about individuals experiencing mental illness began during my 15 years of providing and managing clinical services in the community before joining Rutgers.  The disparity in both mental and physical health services and outcomes compared to the general population is egregious. The majority of these individuals are unemployed, living in poverty, lacking or having lower quality of health care, feeling hopeless or stigmatized by their mental illness. My research focuses on identifying barriers and developing interventions to improve conditions of this population.  For example, I studied the relationships between Human Capital theory variables and rate of labor force participation and wages among people with mental illness, and found the positive correlations and support for the need of assisting them with educational attainment and job training.  In another study, we identified physical health problems including cardiovascular diseases and metabolic related illnesses are not only disproportionally more pervasive and severe in this group, but also being reported as a major barrier to obtaining and maintaining employment. Recently, we began pilot studies of integrating healthy diet into mental health care delivery in the community.

I have two areas of interest for future studies.  One is integrated care of physical health and mental health for people with mental illness for improving health outcomes.  The other is the area of integrating supported education (especially in Career and Technical Education) into supported employment for young adults to improve labor force participation and to earn a living wage.

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Name:  Ni Gao

Title: Associate Professor


  1. Liang, Y., Lu, W. Zong, L., Lai, Z.; Gao, N., & Ray. S. (2019). Effects of electro-acupuncture in reducing depression and anxiety during heroin withdrawal: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Complementary Medicine and Alternative Healthcare. 8(5), 1-6. DOI: 10.19080/JCMAH.2019.08.555747
  1. Gao, N., Eissenstat, S. J. & Giacobbe, G. (2019). Poor physical health: A major barrier to employment participation among individuals with serious mental illness. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. Manuscript accepted.
  1. Eissenstat S., Gao, N., Radler, D. G., Oh, T. (2019). Nutrient intake differences among ethnic groups and risks of depression. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. Manuscript under review.
  1. Gao, N., Solomom, P., Clay, Z., & Swarbrick, M. (2019). A pilot study of wellness coaching for Smoking Cessation among Individuals with Serious Mental Illnesses.

Journal of Mental Health. Manuscript under review.

  1. Lu, W., Oursler, J., Herrick, S., Beninato, J., Brown, L., Durante, A., & Gao, N. (2019). Work-Related Interview Skills Training for Persons with Substance Use Disorder. Manuscript under preparation.
  1. Lu, W., Oursler, J., Gao, N., Herrick, S., et al. (2019). Needs assessment for work related soft skills for transition age youth. Manuscript under preparation.
  1. Gao, N., Eissenstat, S. J., Banko, A., & Bates, (2018). An updated report on the benefits of education attainment among individuals with psychiatric disabilities. The Rehabilitation Counselors and Educators Journal. Manuscript accepted.
  1. Swarbrick, M.A., Razzano, L.A., Cook, J.A., Jonikas, J., Gao, N., William, J. &

Yudof, J. (2017). Correlates of current smoking among adults served by the public mental health system. Journal of Dual Diagnosis. 13(2), 82-90

  1. Waynor, W.R., Gill, K. J., Reinhardt-Wood, D. Nanni, G. S. & Gao, N. (2017) The role of education attainment in supported employment. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin.
  1. Gao, N., Dolce, J. N., Rio, J., Heitzmann, C., & Loving, S. (2016). In-vivo job development training among peer providers of homeless veterans supported employment programs. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal. 39(2), 191-192.
  1. Waynor, W. R., Gill, K., & Gao, N. (2016). The role of work related self-efficacy in supported employment success. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 39(1), 62-67.
  1. Waynor, W. R., Gao, N., & Dolce, J. N. (2012). The paradoxical relationship between hope and educational level for people in recovery. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 15(3), 299-311.
  1. Waynor, W. R., Gao, N., Dolce, J. N., Haytas, L., & Reilly, A. (2012). The relationship between hope and symptoms. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 35(4), 345-348.
  1. Gao, N., Schmidt, L. T., Gill, K., & Pratt, C. W. (2011). Building human capital to increase earning power among people living with mental illnesses. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 35(2), 117-124.


  1. Gao, N., & Dolce, J. N. (2010). A case illustration of strategies to improve employment outcomes among individuals receiving ACT services.  American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 13 (2), 75-88.
  1. Gao, N, Gill, K. J., Schmidt, L. T., & Pratt, C. W. (2010). The application of human capital theory in vocational rehabilitation for individuals with mental illness. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32 (1). 25-33.
  1. Gao, N., Waynor, W. R., O’Donnell, S. (2009). Creating organizational commitment to change: Key to consumer employment success in a supportive housing agency. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 31(1), 45-50.


  1. Gervey, R., & Gao, N. (2009). One-Stop Career Center customer satisfaction questionnaire: Psychometric properties of an instrument that can be used by individuals with and without disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. 30 (1), 21-29.
  1. Gervey, R., Gao, N., Tillman, D., Dickel, K., & Kneubuehl, J. (2009). Person-centered employment planning teams: a demonstration project to enhance employment and training outcomes for persons with disabilities accessing the One-Stop Career Center system.  Journal of Rehabilitation, 75(2), 43-49.
  1. Gervey, R., Costello, L., & Gao, N. (2007). Gloucester County One Stop Project: Results of staff training on customer satisfaction and employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Journal of Rehabilitation, 73(3), 10-17.
  1. Gervey, R., Gao, N., & Rizzo, D. (2004). Gloucester County One Stop Project: Baseline level of access and satisfaction of One Stop Center customers with disability. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 21(2), 103-115.


  1. Rogers, J., Restrepo-Toro, M. E. & Gao, N. (2006). Diversity and Cultural Competence. In M.S. Salzer (Ed.), Psychiatric rehabilitation skills in practice: A CPRP preparation and skills workbook (pp.387-440). Linthicum, MD: USPRA.

Grant Awards

Principal Investigator

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Field Initiated Grant, “Evaluating the Impact of Employment Services in Supportive Housing”, October 2013-September 2017, $600,000.
  2. Rutgers University SHP Dean’s Inaugural Intramural Research Grant, “Wellness Coaching Support to Enhance Smoking Cessation Efforts Among Adults Served by the Public Mental Health System”, 7/1/16 – 6/30/18, $35,000.
  3. UMDNJ Foundation, “The Impact of Self-Help Center Characteristics on the Satisfaction and Empowerment of People with Serious Mental Illness”, 07/01/09, $20,000.

Invited Presenter

International Summit of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Shanghai, China, 2018

Faculty Excellence in Research Award – UMDNJ-SHP 2011

Peer Reviewer

American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 2012-2016

Peer Reviewer, Counseling Outcome Research and Evaluation, 2016-

Peer Reviewer, Journal of Mental Health, 2019-

Peer Reviewer, Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 2019 –

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