Luisa Kcomt, (She/her/hers)

Luisa Kcomt, (She/her/hers)

Assistant Professor

Expert in health equity and health disparities

 By appointment

Luisa Kcomt, (She/her/hers)


Luisa Kcomt is an Assistant Professor at WSU’s School of Social Work. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Windsor in 2019. Following her doctoral studies, she was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan’s Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health under the mentorship of Sean Esteban McCabe and Carol J. Boyd.

Kcomt has worked as a social worker in various clinical settings including hospital, outpatient behavioral health, and hospice and palliative care. Her research agenda is motivated by over 20 years of clinical and leadership experience, and centers on substance use, health disparities, and healthcare access among sexual, gender, and racial/ethnic minority populations. Using a social justice lens, her goal is to advance health equity and promote the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Kcomt’s research has been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care, and others.

Kcomt is an Asian American woman and a first-generation college graduate. She has lived in four countries (Peru, Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Canada, and the United States) across two continents to date. Her lived experience as an immigrant has fostered a social consciousness and empathy for marginalized and vulnerable populations. She is a Licensed Master of Social Work in the state of Michigan.

Click here to view Curriculum Vitae

Degrees and Certifications

  • Ph.D., Social Work, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario
  • M.S.W., Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario
  • Graduate Diploma in Social Administration, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario
  • B.S.W., University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario

Teaching Interests

  • Human Behavior in the Social Environment
  • Diversity, Oppression, & Social Justice
  • Palliative Care and Elder Law
  • Clinical Practice


Areas of Expertise


• Substance use and substance use disorders
• Health care access
• Health disparities
• Hospice and palliative care


• Sexual and gender minorities
• Racial/ethnic minorities
• Older adults


• Quantitative research

Personal Interests

In her free time, Luisa enjoys tending to her potager garden to promote beauty, sustainability, and biodiversity. She also enjoys the culinary arts and watching period dramas.

Research Project

Hope HQ: Building a Community-based Program for Southeast Michigan Families
(Luisa Kcomt, PhD, Sean Esteban McCabe, PhD, & Rebecca Evans-Polce, PhD, Co-Principal Investigators)
Over 20,000 Michigan residents have died from an opioid or other drug overdose in the past 10 years. According to the Michigan Overdose Data to Action Dashboard, the incidence of overdose deaths is particularly high in southeast Michigan, accounting for the majority of drug overdose deaths in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. Children who experience the death of a parent or other significant person are at increased risk of mental illness, substance misuse, and other adverse psychosocial outcomes. Moreover, processing their bereavement is challenging due to the stigmatized nature of the death. We will engage in program development with our community, healthcare, and academic partners in the southeast Michigan region to create Hope HQ, a continuum of care for bereaved children ages 5-17 and their caregivers who have experienced a death in their families through drug overdose.
Funding Support: Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan

Smoking and Cancer-Related Health Disparities among Sexual and Gender Minority Adults
(Philip T. Veliz, PhD, Principal Investigator; Luisa Kcomt, PhD, Co-Investigator)
This project will enhance our understanding of smoking and smoking-related health disparities among sexual and gender minority (SGM; e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) adults in the United States. The limited knowledge regarding the prevalence and how SGM-specific state-level policies are associated with smoking disparities among SGM adults has hindered the ability to address cancer-related outcomes and design more effective lung cancer screening, prevention, and intervention efforts. The integration of multiple data sets with common smoking, gender identity, and sexual orientation measures will allow our team to examine SGM-specific policy factors associated with smoking behaviors, low dose computed tomography lung cancer screening eligibility and use, and smoking-related health outcomes among adults that cannot be adequately addressed with one dataset alone.
Funding Support: National Cancer Institute (R01CA276500)

E-Cigarette Use among U.S. Adolescents and Young Adults: Longitudinal Associations with Tobacco Use and Health and Dimensions of Risk and Protection
(Rebecca Evans-Polce, PhD, Principal Investigator; Luisa Kcomt, PhD, Co-Investigator)
Although one in every three U.S. high school seniors used e-cigarettes in the past year, the long-term trajectories and consequences of e-cigarette use, and longitudinal associations with other nicotine/tobacco use, tobacco cessation, tobacco use disorder symptoms, and other health consequences beyond 1-3 years remain largely unknown, especially among vulnerable populations. This study will address these critical gaps in public health knowledge by improving estimates of e-cigarette use trajectories, investigating the long-term health consequences associated with trajectories of e-cigarette use among adolescents and young adults, and identifying important risk and protective factors and subpopulations most vulnerable to e-cigarette use and its consequences. Findings from the proposed longitudinal study will be widely disseminated to help guide clinical practice, inform public health policies, and enhance future longitudinal research to reduce tobacco-related harms.
Funding Support: National Cancer Institute (R01CA270546)

Sexual Fluidity and Longitudinal Changes in Alcohol Misuse and Associated Health Consequences
(Rebecca Evans-Polce, PhD, Principal Investigator; Luisa Kcomt, PhD, Co-Investigator)
Sexual minorities are at heightened risk of alcohol misuse; however, existing research is largely based on a static and unidimensional construct of sexual orientation rather than a fluid and multidimensional construct of sexual orientation. This longitudinal population-based study will examine the fluidity and multidimensionality of sexual orientation, improve longitudinal estimates of alcohol misuse and its negative health consequences, and identify modifiable risk and protective factors in multiple domains (individual-, social- and policy-level). This study will provide new information to improve assessment, prevention, screening, and intervention efforts targeted towards reducing alcohol-related consequences among sexual minorities.
Funding Support: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R01AA030243)

Trajectories of Tobacco Use, Stress, and Health among U.S. Transgender Youth and Adults
(Luisa Kcomt, PhD, Principal Investigator)
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality worldwide. Evidence suggests that the prevalence of tobacco use is higher among transgender populations (individuals whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex at birth) relative to cisgender populations, placing them at greater risk for smoking-related health consequences. Environmental stressors and targeted marketing efforts by the tobacco industry contribute to transgender individuals’ higher risk of tobacco use. Most research on tobacco use among transgender populations comes from cross-sectional studies. There remains limited knowledge about gender-fluid individuals (i.e., persons who experience changes in gender identity over time) because of conventional binary conceptualizations of gender and the inability of cross-sectional studies to assess gender fluidity. The aim of this project is to examine potential differences between gender-fluid versus gender-stable individuals in their tobacco use and assess factors influencing their trajectories of tobacco use over time using nationally representative longitudinal data.
Funding Support: National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products (U54CA229974).

Do Differences in Wording Matter? Sexual Identity, Gender Identity, and Substance Use Behaviors
(Philip T. Veliz, PhD & Luisa Kcomt, PhD, Co-Principal Investigators)
National surveys often produce disparate estimates of gender identity, sexual orientation, and common substance use behaviors even when they are conducted in the same year. Research has shown that the location of survey administration or the mode of survey delivery may affect respondents’ answers, thus accounting for some of the differences in survey estimates. However, it is difficult to determine from the survey (or data) itself how the wording of these questions may influence estimates and how respondents may interpret these questions. There is a need to assess potential differences in the wording of survey items within population-based studies to determine if this may bias estimates measuring hard-to-reach populations (i.e., sexual and gender minority individuals) and key health behaviors (e.g., nicotine/tobacco product use). This project will assess differences in the wording of survey items assessing gender identity, sexual orientation, and nicotine/tobacco product use across three national studies (i.e., the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health) to determine if a diverse group of respondents will interpret and answer these questions in a similar or dissimilar manner.
Funding Support: Population Dynamics and Health Program, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan


Grand Challenges Project

Kcomt’s work is focused on closing the health gap for vulnerable populations. She has educated healthcare providers on eliminating barriers to healthcare access and promoting an inclusive environment for sexual and gender minority (SGM) people. Her research has underscored the importance of considering discrimination as a factor influencing substance use among SGM populations. Currently, she is collaborating with colleagues at the University of Michigan to study nicotine/tobacco use among SGM people. By identifying subgroups at greater risk for nicotine/tobacco use and risk/protective factors, this work will be used to inform prevention and intervention strategies.

Kcomt has also promoted healthy development for youth, particularly through her previous work in establishing a national network of children’s bereavement camps. These camps provided bereavement support to children, adolescents, and their parents/guardians who experienced the death of a significant person in their lives. Importantly, the opioid epidemic has resulted in loss for many families through drug overdose. Combining her clinical experience with grief and loss, and research on substance use, she is committed to creating innovative ways to support children and youth who have experienced loss through drug overdose in their families.

Courses taught by Luisa Kcomt, (She/her/hers)

Winter Term 2024

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022

Winter Term 2022

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