Astrida Kaugars, Ph.D.

Kaugars Headshot
Astrida Kaugars, Ph.D.Marquette University

Cramer Hall, 328J

MilwaukeeWI53201United States of America
(414) 288-3665



Dr. Astrida Kaugars is a clinical child and pediatric psychologist. Her research activities address two areas of interest:

  • Child and family adaptation and adjustment to children’s chronic illness
  • Socioemotional processes in children and families

Her approach to research represents an integration of child development, pediatric psychology, and developmental psychopathology perspectives.

Research Lab: Child and Family Health Lab


Dr. Kaugars completed her doctoral work in clinical psychology at Case Western Reserve University. After her predoctoral internship at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado, Dr. Kaugars completed postdoctoral training at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and National Jewish Health.

Courses Taught

Dr. Kaugars teaches two undergraduate courses: Psychology of the Exceptional Child (PSYC 3130) and Health Psychology (PSYC 3420). At the graduate level she teaches Advanced Research Methods (PSYC 8125) and co-teaches Psychological Assessment 1 (PSYC 8301) and Principles of Child Psychopathology and Intervention (PSYC 8420). Dr. Kaugars also supervises clinical psychology doctoral students seeing clients in the Center for Psychological Services.

Research Interests

Dr. Kaugars has an active research program examining how child and family factors influence adaptation and adjustment among children at risk due to chronic illness. Most recently Dr. Kaugars has collaborated with colleagues on numerous studies examining how individual and family characteristics are associated with illness management and psychosocial functioning among adolescents with Type 1 diabetes mellitus. She has also conducted research studies with families of children with wheezing in infancy and children with functional constipation and fecal incontinence. Dr. Kaugars utilizes multiple methodologies in her research including observational methods, self- and other-report measures, and interviews.

Dr. Kaugars is also interested in examining socioemotional processes in children and families. She has a particular interest in understanding the role of children’s pretend play in development and adjustment. She has used a measure of pretend play to assess cognitive and affective processes among both school-age and preschool-age children. Research underway seeks to examine associations among children’s play, social relationships, and family functioning. Dr. Kaugars is also interested in how parent-child interaction characteristics, emotional expression, individual family members’ responses to stress, and emotion regulation interact to affect child and family functioning.

Dr. Kaugars’ research program has practical applications for examining normative development as well as working with diverse pediatric and clinical populations.

In 2014, Dr. Kaugars received a grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeastern Wisconsin for the study entitled, “Family Influences on Type 1 Diabetes Management in Young Children.” Listen to Dr. Kaugars and co-investigator Dr. Amy Heffelfinger from the Medical College of Wisconsin discuss the study.


  • Oswald, D.L., Kaugars, A.S., & Tait, M. (2022). American women’s experiences with intimate partner violence during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic: Risk factors and mental health implications. Violence Against Women, Advance online publication,
  • Curtis, C, & Kaugars, A.S. (2022). Correlating barriers to medication adherence with trait anxiety, social stigma, and peer support in college students with chronic illness. Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, 27(3) 178-184.
  • Kaugars, A.S., Holly, L.E., Tait, M., & Oswald, D. (2022). Exploring American parents’ lived experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic: Ramifications for well-being. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 47(2), 135-147.
  • Cummings, C., Benjamin, N.E., Prahbu, H.Y., Cohen, L.B., Goddard, B.J., Kaugars, A.S., Humiston, T. & Lansing, A.H. (2022). Habit and diabetes self-management in adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Health Psychology, 41(1), 13-22.
  • Kichler, J.C. & Kaugars, A.S. (2021). Kicking In Diabetes Support (KIDS) intervention effects: Parent reports of diabetes management. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, 9(2), 135-144.
  • Frenn, M., Kaugars, A., Garcia, J., & Garnier-Villarreal, M. (2020). Child body fat and body mass index: Which determinants are most important? Western Journal of Nursing Research, 42(8), 593-602 .
  • Benjamin, N.E. & Kaugars, A. (2019). Using error grid analysis to assess blood glucose estimation accuracy in adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Children’s Health Care, 48, 332-344. 
  • Kaugars, A., Shields, C., & Brosig, C. (2018). Stress and quality of life among parents of children with congenital heart disease referred for psychological services. Congenital Heart Disease, 13, 72-78.
  • Benjamin, N.E. & Kaugars, A. (2018). JPP Student Journal Club Commentary: The value of assessing patterns of psychosocial risk and resilience in glycemic control trajectory models. Journal of Pediatric Psychology 43, 19-20.
  • Fiese, B.H., Connell, A., Doss, B., Kaugars, A.S., Rhoades, G.K., & Trentacosta. C. (2017). Introduction to the special issue: Advances in methods and measurement in family psychology. Journal of Family Psychology, 31, 969-971. 
  • Hilliard, M.E., Brosig, C., Williams, A.A.A., Valenzuela, J., Kaugars, A., Robins, P.M., Christidis, P., Stamm, K.E., & Wysocki, T. (2017). Pediatric psychologists’ career satisfaction: 2015 Society of Pediatric Psychology Workforce Survey results. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 48, 461-468.
  • Leiser, K., Heffelfinger, A., & Kaugars, A. (2017). Associations among parent-child relationships and cognitive and language outcomes in a clinical sample of preschool children. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 31, 423-437.
  • Kichler, J. & Kaugars, A. (2015). Commentary: Applying positive development principles to group interventions for the promotion of family resilience in pediatric psychology. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsu115
  • Crouse, J., Baumler, M., Gleason, L., Kaugars, A.S., & Kichler, J.C. (2013). Glycemic index, glycemic load, and blood glucose outcomes in adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus. ICAN: Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition, 5 (6), 361-367. doi: 10.1177/1941406413498414.
  • Kichler, J.C., Kaugars, A.S., Marik, P., Nabors, L., & Alemzadeh, R. (2013). Effectiveness of groups for adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus and their parents. Families, Systems, and Health, 31 (3), 280-293. doi: 10.1037/z0033039.
  • Kichler, J.C., Moss, A., & Kaugars, A.S. (2012). Behavioral factors influencing health outcomes in youth with type 1 diabetes. US Endocrinology, 8 (2), 77-83.
  • Kichler, J.C., Kaugars, A.S., Maglio, K., & Alemzadeh, R. (2012). Exploratory analysis of the relationships among different methods of assessing adherence and glycemic control in youth with type 1 diabetes mellitus. Health Psychology. 31 (1), 35-42. doi: 10.1037/a0024704.
  • Kaugars, A.S., Kichler, J., & Alemzadeh, R. (2011). Assessing readiness to change the balance of responsibility for managing type 1 diabetes mellitus: Adolescent, mother, and father perspectives. Pediatric Diabetes, 12 (6), 547-555. doi: 10.1111/j/1399-5448.2010.00737x.
  • Kaugars, A.S., Zebracki, K., Kichler, J., Fitzgerald, C., Greenley, R.N., Alemzadeh, R., & Holmbeck, G.N. (2011). Use of the Family Interaction Macro-coding System with families of adolescents: Psychometric properties among pediatric and healthy populations. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36 (5), 539-551. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsq106.
  • Kaugars, A.S., Silverman, A., Kinservik, M., Heinze, S., Reinemann, L., Sander, M., Schneider, B., & Sood, M. (2010). Families’ perspectives on how constipation and fecal incontinence impact quality of life. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 51 (6), 747-752. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181de0651.
  • Kichler, J., Kaugars, A.S., Ellis, J., & Alemzadeh, R. (2010). Exploring self-management characteristics in youths with type 1 diabetes mellitus: Does membership in a glycemic control category matter. Pediatric Diabetes, 11, 536-543. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5448.2010.00638.x.
  • Kaugars, A.S. & Russ, S.W. (2009). Assessing preschool children’s pretend play: Preliminary validation of the Affect in Play Scale – Preschool version. Early Education and Development, 20 (5), 733-755.
  • Kaugars, A.S., Klinnert, M.D., Robinson, J., & Ho, M. (2008). Reciprocal influences in children’s and families’ adaptation to early childhood wheezing. Health Psychology, 27(2), 258-267.
  • Klinnert, M.D., Kaugars, A.S., Strand, M., & Silveira, L. (2008). Family psychological factors in relation to children’s asthma status and behavioral adjustment at age 4. Family Process, 47 (1), 41-61.
  • Kaugars, A.S., Moody, E., Davis, C., & Klinnert, M.D. (2007). Validity of the Five Minute Speech Sample in families with infants from low-income backgrounds. Infant Behavior and Development, 30, 690-696.
  • Kaugars, A.S., Klinnert, M.D., & Bender, B.G. (2004). Family influences on pediatric asthma. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 29 (7), 475-491.
  • Swift, E.E., Taylor, H. G., Kaugars, A. S., Drotar, D., Yeates, K.O., Wade, S.L., & Stancin, T. (2003) Sibling relationships and behavior after pediatric traumatic brain injury, Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 24 (1), 24-31.
  • Palermo, T.M., Childs, G., Burgess, E.S., Kaugars, A.S., Comer, D., & Kelleher, K. (2002). Functional limitations of school-aged children seen in pediatric primary care. Child: Care, Health, and Development, 28, 379-389.
  • Stancin, T., Kaugars, A.S., Thompson, G.H., Taylor, H.G., Yeates, K.O., Wade, S.L., & Drotar, D. (2001). Child and family functioning 6 and 12 months after a serious pediatric fracture. Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 51, 69-76.
  • Russ, S.W. & Kaugars, A.S. (2000-2001). Emotion in children’s play and creative problem solving. Creativity Research Journal, 13 (2), 211-219.
  • Lillard, A.S., Zeljo, A., Curenton, S., & Kaugars, A. (2000). Children’s understanding of the animacy constraint on pretense. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 46, 21-44.
  • Seja, A.L. & Russ, S.W. (1999). Children’s fantasy play and emotional understanding. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 28 (2), 269-277.

Book Chapters

  • Kaugars, A.S. (2011). Assessment of pretend play. In S.W. Russ & L.N. Niec (Eds.). An evidence-based approach to play in intervention and prevention: Integrating developmental and clinical science (pp. 51-82). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  • Kaugars, A.S., Schuerman, M., & Turner, L.H. (2009). University-community partnerships: Reciprocity on three levels. In D. W. Worley, D.A. Worley, B. Hugenberg, & M.R. Elkins (Eds.), Best practices in experiential and service learning in communication (pp. 17-29). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
  • Russ, S. W., Niec, L., & Kaugars, A.S. (2000). Play assessment of affect: The Affect in Play Scale. In K. Gitlin-Weiner, A. Sandgrund, & C. Schaefer (Eds.), Play diagnosis and assessment (2nd ed., pp. 722-749). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Drotar, D., Riekert, K.A., Burgess, E., Levi, R., Nobile, C., Kaugars, A.S., & Walders, N. (2000). Treatment adherence in childhood chronic illness: Issues and recommendations to enhance practice, research, and training. In D. Drotar (Ed.), Promoting adherence to medical treatments in childhood chronic illness: Concepts, methods, and interventions. (pp. 455-478). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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Department of Psychology
Cramer Hall, 317
604 N. 16th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 288-7218

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