Joie D. Acosta

Photo of Joie Acosta
Senior Behavioral/Social Scientist
Washington Office


Ph.D. in community and cultural psychology, University of Hawai'i; M.A. in psychology, University of Hawai'i; B.A. in psychology, University of Richmond

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Joie Acosta is a senior behavioral/social scientist at the RAND Corporation. She provides managerial, research, evaluation, and technical expertise on projects related to implementation science; positive youth development; community resilience to disasters; and mental health. Her recent RAND publications include Measuring Barriers to Mental Health Care in the Military (Acosta et al., 2018) and Building Older Adults Resilience by Bridging Public Health and Aging-in-Place Efforts (Acosta et al., 2017). Acosta received her Ph.D. in community and cultural psychology at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

Recent Projects

  • Building community resilience to disasters
  • Reducing mental health stigma in the military
  • Evaluating a positive youth development approach to improving school climate
  • Improving sexual assault prevention in the military with Getting To Outcomes
  • Planning economic and disaster recovery in Puerto Rico

Selected Publications

Acosta, J., Chinman, M., Ebener, P., Malone, P.S., Phillips, A., & Wilks, A. , Evaluation of a Whole-School Change Intervention: Findings from a Two-Year Cluster-Randomized Trial of the Restorative Practices Intervention, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2019

Acosta, J., Chinman, M., & Phillips, A. "Promoting Positive Youth Development Through Healthy Middle School Environments," in R. Dimitrova & N. Wiium (Eds.), Handbook of Positive Youth Development in a Global Context - Bridging the Gaps Between Research, Policy, and Practice, , 2019 (forthcoming)

Honors & Awards

  • Silver Medal, RAND

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Psychology Today online

Commentary: Education Week; Montgomery Advertiser; Orange County Register


  • A man walks among debris at the Mudd neighborhood, devastated after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, September 6, 2019, photo by Marco Bello/Reuters

    Hurricane Recovery in the Bahamas: Turning Good Intentions into Good Decisions

    Recovery in the Bahamas will have to be a balancing act. Plans will need to allow for transition toward long-term strategic goals for the nation, but also be mindful of not perpetuating inequities.

    Sep 6, 2019 The RAND Blog

  • A guest looks at the Temple of Time, a structure built to serve as a healing place for those affected by the shooting which claimed 17 lives at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Coral Springs, Florida, February 14, 2019, photo by Joe Skipper/Reuters

    After School Shootings, Children and Communities Struggle to Heal

    School shootings leave wounds that affect students, school staff, families, and communities for years. Building community resilience, implementing evidence-based mental health support early, and providing access for survivors and the community immediately and in the long term could help promote healing and prevent more tragedy.

    Jul 19, 2019 Health Affairs Blog

  • Students and a counselor sit in a circle, photo by Steve Debenport/Getty Images

    What Two New Studies Reveal About Restorative Justice in Middle School and How It Can Be Done Better

    There are many nuances to the implementation and impact of restorative practices. This suggests that continued experimentation could allow school districts to realize the benefits of instituting these practices and reduce the cost of doing so.

    Apr 17, 2019 The 74 Million

  • Suzanne Devine Clark places items on a memorial on the one year anniversary of the shooting which claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, U.S., February 14, 2019, photo by Joe Skipper/Reuters

    Preventing Suicide: Treat Mass Shooting Trauma Beyond Initial Tragedy

    The need for mental health support and suicide-prevention efforts targeting survivors of mass shootings, and the friends and families of victims, is great. Putting such programs in place could go a long way toward helping them heal, and preventing more tragedy.

    Apr 4, 2019 United Press International

  • Elementary school with drug free school zone sign

    Evidence-Based Treatments May Be Casualties of War on Drugs

    U.S. schools and community organizations face a difficult battle to keep kids safe and drug-free. They need tools to help them choose programs that will work best for youth. The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices is such a tool, but its future is uncertain.

    Jan 15, 2018 The Hill

  • A person's hand writing a checklist

    Checklist of Best Practices Developed to Guide Development of Suicide Prevention Campaigns

    Is your crisis line’s suicide-prevention communications effort working well enough? What should you be doing differently? Some help is available through a checklist published earlier this year.

    Oct 25, 2017 Lifeline Network

  • A young student sitting outside in a school corridor

    Rethinking Student Discipline and Zero Tolerance

    Restorative practices are an alternative to zero-tolerance school discipline policies. Rather than mandating prescribed punishments for specific misbehaviors, this more tailored approach aims to empower students.

    Oct 14, 2015 Education Week

  • A group of teenagers drinking outdoors

    U.S. Needs to Improve Community-Based Drug, Alcohol Prevention

    As familiar as Americans are with the problems of youth drug and alcohol abuse, we are not identifying all the potential solutions. While observers criticize overemphasis in U.S. policy on enforcement and scant resources devoted to treatment, the focus on these approaches often ignores a key piece of the puzzle: prevention.

    Jan 31, 2014 The Orange County Register

  • Oklahoma tornado cleanup

    Translating Policy Into Action to Build Community Resilience

    The philosophy and motivation surrounding community resilience has strongly resonated with community leaders but there remains a divide between how experts articulate resilience policy and how that policy translates to on-the-ground implementation. Building Community Resilience: An Online Training addresses that tension.

    Sep 4, 2013 The RAND Blog

  • teens making a toast with shots

    Getting To Outcomes: Improvement of Prevention Capacity Unveiled at a Summit of Maine Officials and Stakeholders

    Community-based practitioners can improve their programs using Getting To Outcomes®, a toolkit, training, and onsite-support package which enhances their ability to prevent drug and alcohol use among youth.

    Apr 29, 2013

  • a group sitting outside with a teacher leading discussion

    'Implementation Science' May Help Providers Adopt New Treatments Despite Real-World Constraints

    A new field called implementation science addresses the issue of how to best support providers to take up new, research-proven treatments and implement them well. A RAND study will test how well Boys & Girls Clubs carry out a program proven to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, with and without an intervention called Getting To Outcomes.

    Feb 18, 2013

  • Volunteers assist with the clean up efforts in Sea Bright, NJ, after Hurricane Sandy

    'New Normal' Requires New Ways to Support Social and 'Human' Recovery

    Recent global disasters vividly illustrate that recovery entails more than simply restoring physical infrastructure such as roads and buildings; it is also a long process of restoring the social infrastructure—the daily routines and networks that support the physical and mental health and well-being of the population, write Anita Chandra and Joie Acosta.

    Nov 26, 2012 The RAND Blog

  • Emergency preparedness checklist and supplies

    Why Aren't Americans Listening to Disaster Preparedness Messages?

    Given the recent spate of highly publicized disasters, why don't more Americans pay attention to the advice of public health officials? The messages they are getting are largely based on unverified assumptions, not hard evidence. Equally concerning, these assumptions may inadvertently hinder preparedness.

    Jun 29, 2012 The RAND Blog