Research Summary

Sonia Salari, PhD is a sociologist with a specialty in gerontology, aging services, family violence, diversity and public policy. Known as an advocate for victims, her research on elder abuse and lethal domestic violence led her to study intimate partner murder-suicides across age groups. Her work is published in multiple journal publications, and a book, Family Violence Across the Life Course: Research, policy and prevention (2015, Kendall Hunt).


  • National Institute on Aging Postdoctoral Fellowship, Carolina Population Center--Demography, University of North Carolina
  • Ph.D., Sociology, State University of New York at Albany. Project: Informal and Formal Spheres of Interaction and Support by Race: An Analysis of Interdependencies and Compensations in Later Life. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Publishing Co.


Dr. Salari is a family sociologist with an interest in family violence, population aging, social interaction, discrimination, elder mistreatment and public policy.  She utilizes a variety of theoretical perspectives and research methods to examine quality of life (QOL) related to formal services, interpersonal violence and ethnicity/immigration. Her quantitative data analysis has utilized FBI Supplemental Homicide Reports and a national sample of intimate partner homicide-suicides.  Her ethnographic research has included observations and interviews in formal settings (including adult day centers, multipurpose senior centers, assisted living, skilled nursing facilities and hospice). Improving the quality of life for older persons is an important goal of this work.  Elder abuse is widely regarded as one of her specialties. She recently published book entitled Family Violence Across the Life Course: Research, policy and prevention (2015) and she is the editor of the Family Violence and Abuse: An Encyclopedia of Trends, Issues and Solutions (2 Volumes) which is under contract with ABC-CLIO for publication in 2021.

 Dr. Salari's research findings are used to advise victim advocates, medical clinicians, policy makers, courts, police, government agencies and aging service practitioners. Community presentations and news interviews have been common venues for outreach. She was recently named a Gerontological Society of America Fellow in the Behavioral and Social Sciences Section.

Primary teaching topics include family violence, kin relationships, mid/later life adult development, population aging, and public policy. Her comparative approach examines data in Utah, U.S. states and internationally.  Dr. Salari has mentored many students and enjoys teaching adult learners. She has previously served as Human Development and Social Policy HDSP Graduate Director.  Her teaching was recognized by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Superior Teaching Award (2005) and the University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award (2008).