Research Studies

Evaluation of Clinical Effectiveness, Cost, and Implementation Factors to Optimize Scalability of Treatment for Co-occurring SUD and PTSD Among Teens

Status: Actively recruiting

Psychosocial traumatic events, and interpersonal violence experiences in particular, during childhood, serve as strong and consistent predictors of substance use problems (SUP) during adolescence and adulthood. This study plans to evaluate Risk Reduction through Family Therapy, an integrative treatment for adolescents with a history of potentially traumatic events, with a focus on substance use problems (SUP) and PTSD. Participants will undergo 4 assessments that are made up of questionnaires and interviews. Each assessment will take approximately two hours and will be administered by a trained research staff member. Assessments will occur either in person, over the phone, and/or online. The total study duration is estimated to be about 12 months. This study is being conducted at treatment sites in Denver, Colorado.

Development and Evaluation of a Virtual Reality Tool for At-Risk Trauma-Exposed Young People

Status: Actively recruiting for YMSM and SUD focus groups

This is a multi-phased study, funded through a NIDA K24 that aims to ultimately refine a virtual reality tool through qualitative and quantitative research targeting HIV and substance abuse risk behavior among at-risk young people who have experienced psychosocial trauma. We are currently in Phase 2 which is the evaluation of a virtual reality tool through focus groups. Participants eligible for this study include young men who have sex with men (YMSM) and adolescents with substance use disorder (SUD) between the ages of 13 – 25 and have experienced at least one traumatic event in in their lifetime. Frontline healthcare workers who work within these populations are eligible for the study as well.

For more information on this study, please email Charli Kirby by clicking her name or call/text 843-408-6140.

Charleston Resiliency Monitoring (CHARM) Study Led by the Medical University of South Carolina

Threat-related Negative Valence Systems, Child Victimization, and Anxiety [NIMH 1R01MH112209; PI: Carla Kmett Danielson, Ph.D.]

Status: Data analysis/publication

Children and adolescents who experience significant or traumatic stressors are at greater risk of developing a variety of different mental disorders throughout development, especially disorders of mood, anxiety, and stress. The CHARM project uses state-of-the-art methods (fMRI, EEG) to assess the impact of stressors on specific neural, physiological, and psychological processes that contribute to long-term stress management and resiliency. Using a prospective design, this study follows 3rd, 6th, and 9th graders over a two-year period to capture critical changes occurring throughout the transition to adolescence. A better understanding of how stressors affect neurophysiological and psychological development, and how this varies at different points in the adolescent transition, will ultimately serve to advance prevention and intervention efforts focused on reducing the negative impact of stressors on developing youth. Participating youth will complete three in-person assessments and two phone-based assessments over a two year span. Youth and their parents will complete survey-based assessments at each time point, and youth will complete neurophysiological assessments during the in-person visits to MUSC.

Ethnic Minority Preventative Outreach and Web-based Education for Risk Reduction (EMPOWERR) Program

Status: Active

The EMPOWERR Program was created by Dr. Danielson in 2009 to address the lack of HIV prevention education in the Charleston area where HIV infection is prevalent. EMPOWERR stands for Ethnic Minority Preventative Outreach and Web-based Education for Risk Reduction. The goals of this program include: Preventing HIV/AIDS as well as drug and alcohol use in minority teens in Charleston County, helping local families find and receive quality health, mental health, and case management services and to reduce HIV/AIDS and substance abuse related problems for minorities in our community. EMPOWERR is funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Minority AIDS Initiative (1U79SP015156).

EMPOWERR uses two evidenced based curricula: Making Proud Choices (MPC) and SiHLE. MPC is for middle to high school aged kids. SiHLE (Sistas Informing Healing Living and Empowering) is catered to African- American middle to high school aged girls. Both cover relationships, condom negotiation, HIV/STD/Pregnancy prevention and everything in between. With the help of the EMPOWERR Public Health Educator these programs have been implemented in Charleston area schools and throughout the Charleston Juvenile Justice System. In the future, EMPOWERR hopes to become a well-known resource for comprehensive preventative education and a staple in the community.

For more information about the EMPOWERR Program, please click here to view the EMPOWERR website.

Selected Publications:

Andrews, T., Walker., J., Bernard, D., Adams, Z., de Arellano, M., & Danielson, C. K. (2023). Clinical diversity in a randomized trial that explicitly sought racial/ethnic diversity in its sample: Baseline comparisons in a treatment of youth substance use and posttraumatic stress. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 15(Suppl 1), S183–S191.

Danielson, C. K., Adams, Z. W., McCart, M. M., Chapman, J., Sheidow, A., Walker, J., Smalling, A. & de Arellano, M. (2020). The safety and efficacy of exposure-based Risk Reduction through Family Therapy (RRFT) for co-occurring substance use problems and PTSD among adolescents: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 77, 574-586. PMCID: PMC7042939.

Hahn, A. M., Adams, Z. W., McCart, M., Chapman, J., Sheidow, A., de Arellano, M. A., & Danielson, C. K. (2020). Risk Reduction through Family Therapy (RRFT): Protocol of a randomized controlled efficacy trial of an integrative treatment for substance use problems, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, and risky sexual behavior in adolescents who have experienced interpersonal violence and other traumatic events. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 22, 106012.

Danielson, C. K., Adams, Z. W., & Hanson, R. (2019). Risk Reduction through Family Therapy (RRFT): Exposure-Based Treatment for Co-Occurring PTSD and Substance Use Problems among Adolescents (pgs. 165-182). In A. A. Vujanovic & S. E27, 70-83.. Back (Eds.), Posttraumatic stress and substance use disorders: A comprehensive clinical handbook. New York: Routledge.

Danielson, C. K., McCauley, J. L., Stauffacher-Gros, K., Jones, A., Barr, S., Borkman, A. L., Bryant, B. G., Ruggiero, K. J. (2016). Development and Usability of an Evidence-Based HIV/STI Prevention Website for Female African-American Adolescents. Health Informatics Journal

Danielson, C. K., Walsh, K., McCauley, J., Ruggiero, K. J., Brown, J., Sales, J., Rose, E. Wingood, G. & DiClemente, R. (2014). HIV-Related Sexual Risk Behavior among African-American Girls. Journal of Women’s Health, 23, 413-419

Davidson, T. M.*, Lopez, C. M.*, Saulson, R. Borkman, A.L., Soltis, K., Ruggiero, K. J., de Arellano, M. Wingood, G., DiClemente, R., & Danielson, C.K. (2014). Development of a behavioral HIV prevention program for Latina adolescents. Culture, Health, and Sexuality, 16, 533-546.

Danielson, C. K., McCauley, J., Jones, A., Borkman, A. O., Miller, S., & Ruggiero, K. J. (2013). Feasibility of Delivering Evidence-Based HIV/STI Prevention Programming to A Community Sample of African-American Teen Girls via the Internet. AIDS Education & Prevention, 25, 394-404.