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.

Daily Activities and Young Adult Experiences Survey (DAYS) ProjectHow women engage with the social contexts of young adulthood may increase vulnerability to or provide protection against SA. Yet one of the defining characteristics of assault risk – the interpersonal facets of this risk – has not been considered in the literature. This study aims to address this gap, by examining dynamic, short-term associations between interpersonal goal orientation and routine risk activities, and assault protective behaviors that guard against SA, and how self-regulation and the peer context may influence risk and protection. This study will also use historical data to examine early adolescent interpersonal goals that may serve as developmental precursors for risk. Finally, it links shorter-term changes in interpersonal processes to longer-term developmental processes.

R01 AA026105 (Read, PI; Colder, Co-PI)

Historical data supported by  R01 DA0119631 (Colder, PI; Read, Co-I)

Protecting Allies in Risky Situations (PAIRS) Project: The objective of this study is to develop and complete a preliminary test of a brief, dyad-based motivational intervention that empowers college women to protect themselves and one another from sexual assault (SA). Delivered to pairs of friends, this unique intervention will be designed to harness the power of friendships to arrive at a personalized, mutual, feasible, and effective approach to assault prevention. 

R34 AA027046 (Read, PI, Livingston, Co-PI)

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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. Click here for more information.

Volpe Pic

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 and Dr. Veronica LaMarch (University at Essex).

Project CABS: The Cross-Cultural Addiction Study Team (CAST) is a collective of international scientists in the behavioral sciences with a shared vision of answering meaningful research questions regarding addictive behaviors (predominately substance use) that have important global policy, prevention, and/or treatment implications. It is led by Dr. Adrian Bravo, assistant professor at the College of William & Mary.

To date three studies have been proposed/completed that examine whether the relationships between risk/protective factors and substance misuse among college students differentiate cross-culturally. In our first project (Project CAS), we cross-culturally examined distal and proximal antecedents of alcohol misuse among college students from Argentina, Spain, and the U.S.  In our second study (Project CMS) we cross-culturally examined various antecedents to marijuana outcomes among college students from 5 countries (Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Netherlands, and the U.S.).  Our third study (Project CABS) is an ongoing study that examines college student co-use of various drugs (alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs) and outcomes in 7 countries (i.e., Argentina, England, Uruguay, Canada, Spain, South Africa, and the U.S.).

SPational Alcohol Cues and Emotions Study (SPACES): The primary aim of the study is to examine the associations between alcohol cue environment and affect-related drinking. To do this, this study will use GPS information and daily surveys in order to capture these processes as they occur naturally in daily life. Findings from this study will further our understanding of when and why people drink, and how the environment that they are in may affect drinking. This knowledge may help to identify who is at most risk for negative alcohol experiences.