Current Research

We have several ongoing projects oriented around the topics of trauma, posttraumatic stress, and substance use as they occur in various populations. These are described below.

Promoting Optimal Wellness and Empowering Resilience through Narrative Exposure Therapy (POWER-NET): The goal of this study is to examine preliminary feasibility and efficacy of Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) to promote adolescent mental health related to interpersonal trauma. Among those at highest risk for interpersonal violence and its sequelae are youth from urban, low-resourced neighborhoods. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common outcome associated with IPT. Substance misuse (SUB) is a frequent concomitant of PTSD and other disorders such as depression. NET is a promising intervention to reduce PTSD symptoms and associated psychological distress, via the supported reconstruction (narrative telling) of the traumas. NET has a critical advantage over existing PTSD treatments in that it can be delivered in a brief format, in community settings where at-risk adolescents are likely to be found. We currently are conducting a trial (N=50) to estimate NET treatment effects on PTSD and depression symptoms and substance use outcomes in urban adolescents (ages 16-21). NET will be compared against a wait list control condition. This is the first study to examine NET efficacy in this population. Recruitment and intervention are taking place at our community partner, a Buffalo area facility that serves
homeless and at-risk youth. We are collecting outcome data at Baseline, and at 1 and 3 month follow-up assessments. Potential mechanisms of change and treatment outcome also will be examined.

This study is funded by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute and by The Fahs-Beck Foundation.

This work is inspired by the life and work of Dr. Ellen Volpe.

Volpe Pic

Narrative Exposure Treatment: Integrating an evidence-based trauma intervention with residential substance abuse treatment for adolescents (TOWER-NET).  The objective of this 3-year project is to bring evidence-based trauma intervention to substance abuse residential treatment for adolescents with substance use problems. The grant will provide training in Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) to treatment staff at Buffalo’s Renaissance House, a residential treatment facility. Our study will examine training and implementation outcomes for NET, as well as substance use and trauma-related outcomes for 50 adolescents treated by Renaissance House staff. Pre-intervention, post-intervention, and 3 month follow-up outcomes will be assessed.

This study is conducted in collaboration with co-PI Susan Zannoni, and is funded by the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation.

Social goal Orientation and Assault Risk (SOAR): Sexual assault occurs in college in settings that are social in nature, often with perpetrators known to the victim. Understanding how women interact with their social environment may be the key to assault vulnerability. The objective of this lab-based study is to better understand how social goal orientation (interpersonal orientations toward agency and communion) may influence women’s navigation of complex social situations and as such, how these orientations represent a risk or protective factor sexual assault. We also seek to understand how these orientations, long believed to be static, trait-like constructs, may shift in response to the demands of the social environment. To this end, we are using assault vignettes and an experimental social goal paradigm to examine the impact of explicit and implicit social goals on sexual assault risk perception during an alcohol-involved social situation. We also will test the role that self-regulation may play in this association. This work is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Mark Seery (UB Social Psychology, and Dr. Veronica
LaMarch (University at Essex;
Consequences of Marijuana Study (CMS): Dr. Read is a part of the Cross-Cultural Alcohol Study Team, which comprises of a team of researchers with different areas of alcohol expertise from 3 nations (Argentina, Spain, and the United States). With this group, Dr. Read currently is involved in a multi-site study (CMS) examining marijuana and alcohol use, attitudes, and measures as they occur across various cultures.
This two-part study (i.e., baseline: Fall 2017; follow-up: Spring 2018) is seeks to test the longitudinal effects of specific risk/protective factors on marijuana use and negative consequences across four universities. Findings from the proposed study will inform etiological models of marijuana use patterns, college campus initiatives/programs, and public policies surrounding marijuana use. Dr. Adrian Bravo ( the lead investigator of this study.