Research

DYADS Logo

Study name:  DYADS: Digital Assessment of Young Adults and Detection of Suicidality Study
Principal Investigator:  Erika Forbes, PhD
Funding Source:  National Institute of Mental Health

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Rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among young adults have reached a crisis level, especially for those in the LGBTQ+ (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, other sexual minority status, and/or transgender) population. People in this group face identity-based discrimination in addition to the usual social-developmental challenges of early adulthood. The DYADS Study focuses on young adults aged 18-30 who identify as LGBTQ+ or heterosexual and have experienced suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The goal is to investigate social factors—such as support, rejection, and loss—in suicidality in young adults, focusing on brain sensitivity to social experiences, real-life experiences of social threat, and changes in suicidal thoughts and behaviors over 6 months.

https://andp.pitt.edu/homepage/studies/or dyads@pitt.edu

 

EMBODY: Early experience & Mind-BODY Connections Study

Study name: EMBODY: Early experience & Mind-BODY Connections Study
Principal investigator: Layla Banihashemi, PhD
Funding source: National Institute of Mental Health

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We are examining how difficult experiences in childhood (including neighborhood disadvantage and childhood financial circumstances) impact vulnerability to mental health symptoms in adulthood through changes in brain circuits and body functions involved in stress responses. The results of this study could contribute to more effective mental health treatments.

 

Black Maternal Health CVD Logo

Study name: HOP: Health over the Postpartum Period
Principal investigator: Alison Hipwell, PhD & Michele D. Levine, PhD
Funding source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death and disease among Black women and is associated with pregnancy complications and experiences of early and chronic stress. The primary goal of the Health over the Peripartum Period (HOP) study is to examine the relationship between changes in stress regulation during pregnancy and CVD risk in the postpartum years in a sample of young Black women. The HOP study will combine health and behavioral indicators of CVD risk in a sample of Black women who have participated in a 20-year longitudinal study to examine the effects of lifetime stress exposure and stress reactivity on profiles of CVD risk across the first two years postpartum. New data from this study will improve understanding of CVD risk specific to Black women and will inform the targets and timing of interventions to reduce persistent racial inequities in maternal health.

 

 

 

JAM Logo

Study name: JAM: Judgement and experiences following Alcohol consumption in the Moment
Principal investigator: Sarah Pedersen, PhD
Funding source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

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Research has shown that there are important individual differences in how alcohol can affect people’s physiological arousal, thoughts, decisions, and behaviors. One of the main goals of the JAM study is to understand how chronic and acute discrimination and stressful experiences relate to the acute effects of alcohol to gain understanding in health inequities in alcohol problems between African American/Black and European American/White adults. Data will inform treatment targets to decrease inequities in alcohol problems for people with minoritized racial identities.

https://yfrp.pitt.edu/jam

 

PRIDEiM Logo

Study name: PRIDE iM: A national survey of social media use and mental health among sexual and gender minority (SGM) young adults
Principal investigator: César G. Escobar-Viera, PhD, MD
Funding source: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

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The objective of this study is to determine the role of social media use on depression and other mental health outcomes among young adults with minoritized sexual and/or gender identities (SGM). To achieve this, we will examine longitudinal associations between different measures of social media use, interactions, and behaviors and several mental health outcomes among SGM young adults. We will conduct online surveys over a period of 12 months among a national sample recruited from social media, collection data at baseline and three follow-ups. Results of this aim will inform future development of social media-based intervention for SGM at risk for mental health problems, mitigating identified risk social media behaviors while enhancing protective ones.

REALbot logo

Study name: REALbot: A social media-based chatbot to help optimizing social media experiences and combating social isolation among rural sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth
Principal investigator: César G. Escobar-Viera, PhD, MD
Funding source: ETUDES Center Pilot Trial (funded through a National Institute of Mental Health P50 ALACRITY Center grant) (MH115838)

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Specific resources are among the top needs of rural sexual and/or gender minority (SGM) youth to reduce isolation and increase access to mental health. Social media might provide an opportunity to fill these needs: many rural SGM youth turn to social media to connect with others like them, feel part of a community, or find support perceived as unavailable in the physical community. However, SM can also be a conduit for rejection, discrimination, and other negative experiences, potentially increasing social isolation and depression risk. Given that social media is the natural environment for these interactions, we have developed and are recruiting rural SGM teens to assess the acceptability and usability of a conversational agent (i.e., a chatbot) to deliver an evidence-based psychoeducational intervention to optimize social media experiences and reduce social isolation among rural SGM youth. Participants are asked to use the chatbot in a usability test session and are interviewed to provide feedback.

https://www.facebook.com/Ruralchatbotstudy

Swan Logo

Study name: SWAN: Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation
Principal investigator: Rebecca Thurston, PhD (Pittsburgh PI) please see website for additional PIs
Funding source: National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Nursing Research, the National Institutes of Health, Office of Research on Women’s Health, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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SWAN is a multi-site longitudinal, epidemiologic study designed to examine women’s health during the middle years and beyond. SWAN examines the physical, biological, psychological and social changes during the menopause transition period and its implications for health later in life. With enrollment of five racial/ethnic groups (White, Black, Japanese, Chinese, Hispanic/Latinx) across seven sites in the United States, SWAN is specifically designed to consider the natural history of menopause transition and its links to later health across diverse racial/ethnic groups. This study has produced seminal information about the menopause transition and its links to health across diverse populations.

http://www.thurstonlab.pitt.edu/research/ or https://www.swanstudy.org

Prenatal Substance Use Logo

Study name: Prenatal Substance Use in Young Sexual Minority (SM) Women
Principal investigator: Natacha De Genna, PhD
Funding source: National Institute on Drug Abuse

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The goal of this study is to compare rates and correlates of prenatal substance use in pregnant sexual minority women to pregnant young women who are strictly heterosexual, controlling for pre-pregnancy substance use. We will also investigate relations among prenatal substance use and other syndemic factors such as exposure to violence, discrimination, depressive symptoms, and stress. Although there are higher rates of substance use among young sexual minority women, and sexual minority youth are more likely to experience an adolescent pregnancy, there are no data on prenatal substance use in this vulnerable population. In addition to survey and medical record data, qualitative interviews are being used to contextualize risk factors for prenatal substance use and allow pregnant SM women to describe their experiences with obstetric care.

Prenatal Substance Use Logo

Study name: Structural and Racial Discrimination (SRD) and Perinatal Substance Use during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Principal investigator: Natacha De Genna, PhD
Funding source: National Institute on Drug Abuse

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The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the challenges faced by minority pregnant young women, with studies documenting increases in psychological stress and psychiatric symptoms during the pandemic among childbearing populations. There is a critical need to understand the implications of SRD and pandemic-related stress on substance use and perinatal outcomes, especially in young, pregnant Black women. In this mixed-methods study, participants will voice how SRD contributed to difficulties before and during pregnancy, including stress and barriers to healthcare. We will ask about obstetric racism (e.g., discrimination during medical encounters while pregnant) and if these experiences impacted their pregnancy and/or birthing experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Themes from these interviews and community stakeholder input will be used to add survey items and analyzed in conjunction with data from a survey of every day experiences of discrimination and medical record data.