Sally S Cohen


Sally Cohen headshot

Sally Cohen


Clinical Professor

1 212 992 5929

433 First Ave
New York, NY 10010
United States

Accepting PhD students

Sally Cohen's additional information

Sally S. Cohen, FAAN, Ph.D., RN, is a clinical professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. As a nationally recognized leader in advancing health policy and nursing at the national and state levels, she helps integrate health policy into nursing education, practice, and research. Her interdisciplinary scholarship encompasses public health, children’s rights, bullying prevention, and the politics of policymaking for children’s issues. As the editor-in-chief of Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice from 2014 to 2019, Cohen helped to create a vibrant forum for nurses and others globally to share ideas and analyses of policies and political activities that affect nursing practice in all venues of care.

Before joining NYU as faculty, Cohen was the 2014–2015 NAM/AAN/ANA/ANF Distinguished Nurse Scholar-in-Residence at the Institute of Medicine (now the Academy of Medicine). Before that, she directed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico. The collaborative, which wrapped up its work in 2017, prepared nursing Ph.D. students for leadership in health policy. As director of policy and research at the National League of Nursing, Cohen helped advocate for legislation that in 1985 established the National Institute of Nursing Research. She also developed and directed the Nursing Management, Policy, and Leadership specialty at the Yale. 

Among her many honors, Cohen received the 2019 Lois Capps Policy Luminary Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing for her exceptional contributions to the nursing workforce and healthcare policy. She was honored by Yale School of Nursing with its “90 Outstanding Yale Nurses” award in 2013. In 2008, she received the Kaplan-Landy Award for Vision, Innovation, and Leadership from the Hadassah Nurses Council. She was elected to the New York Academy of Medicine in 2006 and the American Academy of Nursing in 1988.

Cohen earned her PhD from Columbia University, MSN from Yale University, and BA from Cornell University.


PhD - Columbia University
MSN - Yale University
BA - Cornell University

Community/population health
Health Policy

American Academy of Nursing
American Nurses Association
American Political Science Association
American Public Health Association
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Faculty Honors Awards

Lois Capps Policy Luminary Award, American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2019)
90 Nurses for 90 Years, Yale University School of Nursing (2013)
Kaplan-Landy Award for Vision, Innovation, and Leadership, Hadassah National Nurses Council (2008)
Elected to the New York Academy of Medicine (2006)
Ellen Rudy Clore Excellence in Writing Award, Journal of Pediatric Health Care (1998)
Dissertation approved with distinction (1993)
Marisa de Castro Benton Prize, for outstanding dissertation in Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University (1993)
Elected to American Academy of Nursing (1988)
Elected to Sigma Theta Tau, International, Honor Society for Nursing, as charter member Delta Mu Chapter (1979)


The Impact of COVID-19 on Systems of Care for Children and Youth With Special Health Care Needs

Cohen, S. S., Toly, V. B., Lerret, S. M., & Sawin, K. J. (2023). Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 37(2), 106-116. 10.1016/j.pedhc.2022.09.009
Introduction: This article describes the challenges and opportunities that the COVID-19 pandemic presented for providing and coordinating care for children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) who rely on a diverse array of systems to promote their health, education, and well-being. Method: Peer-reviewed published literature and reports from the national government and nonprofit organizations that advocate for CYSHCN were examined, particularly concerning systems that impacted CYSHCN during COVID-19. Results: Pre-COVID-19, CYSHCN and their families faced challenges accessing and coordinating care across diverse systems. COVID-19 exacerbated these challenges because of disruptions in care and services that negatively impacted CYSHCN. COVID-19 also highlighted opportunities for positive change and care innovations. Discussion: Understanding the systems of care that CYSHCN rely on and the effects of COVID-19 on these systems can enhance access to and quality of care. Recommendations are made for practice, leadership, research, and policy.

Combined Race and Gender Trend Disparities in Depressive Symptoms among U.S. High School Students: 1999–2019

Grunin, L., Yu, G., & Cohen, S. (2022). Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 43(9), 824-834. 10.1080/01612840.2022.2067274
In 2019, over 3.2 million adolescents in the U.S. reported depressive symptoms—a number that continues to increase annually. Not only can depression negatively impact an adolescent’s academic performance, social development, and cognitive function, but it is also the most common condition associated with suicide. Previous studies have reported prevalence rates and statistical trends by either gender or race. We conducted an in-depth analysis of the current racial and gender trend disparities in adolescent depressive symptoms by examining linear and quadratic trends from the Youth Behavior Risk Survey (N = 158,601) over two decades (1999–2019), stratified by gender and race subgroups, both separately and combined. This novel quantitative method allows for a more nuanced approach when exploring social and cultural influences on adolescent depressive symptoms. We found a significant difference in the prevalence of depressive symptoms between males and females among Black, Hispanic, and multiracial adolescents in each separate year of pooled data. However, an increased prevalence trend over the 20-year period was only seen among the females of these three racial categories. White and Asian female adolescents also exhibited a statistical increase in prevalence of depressive symptoms over time. The only group of males with a significant trend increase over time were White adolescents. Understanding the intersection of gender and race in adolescent depressive symptoms trends enhances evidence for nurses and other healthcare professionals when developing and implementing targeted, effective prevention and intervention measures.

School Nurses’ Perspectives of Bullying Involvement of Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions

Cohen, S. S., Grunin, L., & Guetterman, T. C. (2022). Health Behavior and Policy Review, 9(3), 877-893. 10.14485/HBPR.9.3.5
Objective: Our primary objective was to understand bullying as it pertains to middle school students with chronic physical or behavioral health conditions by examining it through the lens of school nurses. A second objective was to understand issues pertaining to implementation of New York’s bullying prevention law with a focus on these same students. Methods: We employed a qualitative descriptive design with purposive sampling to explore perspectives of school nurses in New York State who worked in public middle schools. Using a semi-structured protocol, we conducted audio-recorded telephone interviews that were transcribed for subsequent thematic analysis. Results: Twelve nurses agreed to be interviewed. Results revealed participants’ understanding of bullying as related to students with chronic health conditions, especially those with behavioral health issues. Results also showed nurses’ limited understanding of New York’s bullying prevention law and missed opportunities for school nurses as champions of students with chronic health conditions who are bullied. Conclusions: Education and health care professionals should collaborate to disseminate information to school personnel about the risks of bullying for students with chronic health conditions and operationalize plans for prevention.

An Integrative Review of Experiences Parenting Transgender and Gender Diverse Children

Warner, A., Dorsen, C., Navarra, A. M. D., & Cohen, S. (2021). Journal of Family Nursing, 27(4), 304-326. 10.1177/10748407211001559
Transgender and gender diverse (TGD) children face increased behavioral health risks including suicidal behaviors and substance abuse. Parental affirmation is associated with behavioral health outcomes similar to non-TGD peers. This integrative review synthesizes and appraises evidence regarding experiences of parenting a TGD child in the United States or Canada from 2008 to 2018. Most parents across these 15 studies described affirming their child’s gender at time of interview. Parents reported initial interpersonal processes (emotions, concerns, beliefs), sought education (frequently online), and described interactions with family members and professionals that were not always affirming. Parents accessed support groups but described their own well-being as a low priority relative to the child’s needs. Parents’ own needs for well-being may affect the process of parenting a TGD child and should be explored. Future research should address the experiences of non-parent family members and participants from more diverse backgrounds. Nursing education must consistently address gender affirming care.

The Relationship Between Youth Cyberbullying Behaviors and Their Perceptions of Parental Emotional Support

Grunin, L., Yu, G., & Cohen, S. S. (2021). International Journal of Bullying Prevention, 3(3), 227-239. 10.1007/s42380-020-00080-5
Studies of bullying among youth usually focus on those who are bullied. Understanding the factors that affect youth who exhibit bullying behaviors is equally important. Such knowledge can heighten effectiveness of prevention and interventions at the individual, family, school, and community levels. We performed a secondary data analysis using data from the 2009 to 2010 World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Health Behavior in School-Aged Children cross-sectional survey (n = 12,642), the most recent WHO data collected in the USA. Using latent class analysis, we clustered sample participants into categories of children who do not bully, bully with a low cyberbullying element, bully with a moderate cyberbullying element, and bully with a high cyberbullying element. We used multinomial logistic regression to explore the relationships between youth’s perception of certain family characteristics (e.g., parental emotional support and socio-demographic characteristics) and the odds ratios of falling into one of the four latent classes generated. Establishing if a relationship exists between youth’s perception of parental support factors and their bullying behavior can enhance understanding of variables that might modify adolescents’ bullying. Findings of this study point to the importance of parental emotional support as a factor that can affect adolescent cyberbullying behavior. This evidence is useful for parents, education and healthcare professionals, and others involved in young people’s lives.

Commemorating the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps

Cohen, S. S. (2019). Policy, Politics, and Nursing Practice, 20(2), 55-56. 10.1177/1527154419859747

Message From the Editor in Chief

Cohen, S. S. (2019). Policy, Politics, and Nursing Practice, 20(1), 3. 10.1177/1527154419851496

New Trends in Publishing

Cohen, S. S. (2019). Policy, Politics, and Nursing Practice, 20(3), 111-112. 10.1177/1527154419878328

Preventing adverse health outcomes among children and adolescents by addressing screen media practices concomitant to sleep disturbance

Riesch, S. K., Liu, J., Kaufmann, P. G., Doswell, W. M., Cohen, S., & Vessey, J. (2019). Nursing Outlook, 67(4), 492-496. 10.1016/j.outlook.2019.06.009

Reframing child rights to effect policy change

Cohen, S. S., Fry-Bowers, E., Bishop-Josef, S., O’Neill, M. K., & Westphaln, K. (2019). Nursing Outlook, 67(4), 450-461. 10.1016/j.outlook.2019.02.012
Background: Much of the discourse surrounding children's advocacy in the United States relies on a rights-based approach. We argue that this approach has limitations that impede progress in advancing children's well-being. Purpose: The purpose of this article is to explain alternatives to a rights-based approach in advocating for children, such as developmental, economic, capabilities, and mutualism frameworks. Methods: Our analysis is based on the independent work of two separate university-based groups studying children's rights; the authors were each members of one of the groups and subsequently integrated their findings for this article. Discussion: US policies for children, especially in the domains of health and education, depict an unevenness that results in many children failing to receive certain critical services and benefits. Relying on a rights-based approach to correct these disparities and inequities is contentious and has yet to sufficiently change state and federal policies or improve children's health outcomes. Other approaches are needed to advance children's well-being. Conclusion: Nurses individually and collectively need to be mindful of the pitfalls of a rights-based approach and use other frameworks in advocating for children and youth.