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Research Projects

The Center’s research investigations focus on applied public health, and are designed with public health policy and clinical practice implications. The goals of our studies are to inform program and service development and target at-risk populations, patients, family members, and informal caregivers. Overall, the Center’s research projects address one of four public health topics:

  • Health Promotion and Illness Behavior 
  • Living with Chronic or Life-threatening Disease
  • Caregiving
  • End of Life Care

Research Investigations

To learn about the Center’s research investigations, please choose from among the four health topics in the pulldown menu.

 

Health Promotion and Illness Behavior

Study: “MSMW: Pathways, Motives and Behaviors”
Principal Investigator: Karolynn Siegel
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Mental Health

Overview: The investigation examines the sexual behaviors of non-gay identified men who have sex with both men and women (MSMW) who have not disclosed their bisexual behavior to their female partners. The study’s specific aims are to: (1) Identify the needs fulfilled by MSMW’s relationships with men and with women; (2) Investigate MSMW’s reasons and motives for concealing their same-sex behavior; (3) Identify the impression management strategies MSMW use to maintain their identity as heterosexual; (4) Investigate the potential differences in sexual behaviors and risk reduction strategies MSMW engage in with their male and female partners; (5) Examine how MSMW construct notions of risk differ bases on the context in which sex occurs; and (6) Address potential racial/ethnic variability in each of the above aims.

Study:“Desire for Pregnancy, Contraception, and HIV Risk among Serodiscordant Couples”
Principal Investigator(s): Karolynn Siegel and Helen-Maria Lekas
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Child and Human Development

Overview: The investigation examines the perspectives and behaviors of partners in HIV serodiscordant relationships with regard to contraceptive, sexual, and reproductive behaviors that may result in HIV transmission or pregnancy. The specific aims are to examine: (1) Each partner’s desire, motives, and deterrents for having a child within a serodiscordant couple; (2) Each partner’s perceptions of the risks of horizontal and vertical transmission in the context of conception; (3) Each partner’s willingness to engage in unprotected sex and tolerate the risks of transmission and pregnancy, and also the strategies used to manage these risks; (4) Each partner’s perceptions and experiences of support or discouragement of their reproductive goals from health care providers and family; and, (5) How partners in serodiscordant relationships negotiate and communicate about pregnancy, contraception, and HIV risk.

Study:“Symptoms and Illness Behaviors of HIV-Infected Older Adults”
Principal Investigator: Karolyn Siegel
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Aging

Overview: The investigation examines the role of symptom interpretation on illness behaviors among older adults with HIV/AIDS. The specific aims are: (1) To examine the symptom appraisal process; (2) To examine coping responses to common HIV symptom; (3) To examine kinds of self care activities employed; and, (3) To examine emotional responses to common symptoms.

Study:“Symptom Interpretation and Oral Health Among Harlem Adults”
Principal Investigator: Karolynn Siegel
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Overview: This investigation examines potential reasons for the high rates of unmet oral health problems in Central Harlem. The specific aims are: (1) To investigate processes involved in interpretation of dental symptoms; (2) To examine coping strategies to manage dental symptoms; and, (3) To examine factors influencing the choice of self-care or professional care to address symptoms.

 

Living with Chronic or Life-threatening Disease

Study:“Patterns of Utilization of the LAF Notebook by Cancer Survivors”
Principal Investigator: Karolynn Siegel
Funder: Lance Armstrong Foundation

Overview: This investigation examines the patterns of utilization and the perceived utility of the Lance Armstrong Foundation Notebook, a resource for cancer survivors. The specific aims are: (1) To examine the factors that contribute to how the Notebook is used, that is, as a reference book, a workbook, and an organizational tool; (2) To examine the factors that contribute to or undermine sharing the Notebook with family, friends, and other survivors; (3) To examine the recommendations study participants made for improving and changing the Notebook, including content, language, and stylistic changes; and, (4) To identify the network of cancer-related services and information participants accessed and used during the 6-month study period, and examine whether the Notebook had any impact on their search for services.

Study:“Women Living with HIV in Two Time Periods”
Principal Investigator: Karolynn Siegel
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Mental Health

Overview: This investigation is examining how the advent of HAART medications changed the psychosocial experience of women living with HIV/AIDS. The specific aims are: (1) To examine changes in psychosocial adaptation; (2) To examine changes in illness-related adaptive tasks (e.g. stigma, disclosure, adherence); and (3) To examine changes in coping strategies to manage these tasks.

Study:“Late Middle Age and Older Adults Living with HIV/AIDS”
Principal Investigator: Karolynn Siegel
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Aging

Overview: This investigation is examining the adaptive challenges facing late middle-age and older adults with HIV/AIDS. The specific aims are: (1) To identify the illness-related adaptive tasks; (2) To examine the strategies for coping with these adaptive tasks; and (3) To examine whether age complicates mastery of these adaptive challenges or adds to them.

Study:“HIV-Infected IDU Living with HCV Coinfection”
Principal Investigator: Karolynn Siegel
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Drug Abuse

Overview: This investigation examines how living with HIV/AIDS may be complicated by HCV coinfection. The specific aims are: (1) To examine whether HCV complicates the mastery of illness-related adaptive tasks; (2) To examine if HCV adds unique adaptive challenges; (3) To examine if HCV changes patient’s treatment decisions; and (4) To examine if HCV changes physician’s treatment decisions.

Caregiving

Study:“Enhancing Family Caregivers Strengths and Skills in Managing Older Cancer Patients Symptoms”
Principal Investigator: Victoria H. Raveis
Funder: NIH/National Cancer Institute and Office of Research on Women’s Health

Overview: This study is implementing and evaluating the efficacy of a short-term problem-solving, skills training program for familial caregivers to lower income, older (60+), post-treatment minority cancer patients. The specific aims are: (1) To examine changes in psychosocial illness-related caregiving; (2) To examine changes in problem-solving strategies to manage symptoms; and (3) To assess the implementation of the community-based program delivery format.

Study:“Breast Cancer and the Family Caring Unit”
Principal Investigator: Victoria H. Raveis
Funder: NYS Dept. of Health Research Science Board (EMPIRE Award)

Overview: This study is exploring the psychosocial needs and concerns of women at risk for breast cancer who are also involved in careprovision. The specific aims are: (1) To explore psychosocial stresses experienced caring for a relative with breast cancer; (2) To examine how perceived cancer risk impacts quality of careprovision; and (3) To examine the psychosocial adjustment of the cancer experience on the family.

Study:“Aging Families and Breast Cancer”
Principal Investigator: Victoria H. Raveis
Funder: Dept. of Defense, Breast Cancer Initiative

Overview: This study is exploring the psychosocial issues caregiving daughters encounter caring for mothers diagnosed with breast cancer. The specific aims are: (1) To examine impact of care experiences on daughter’s perceived cancer risk; (2) To explore impact of perceived risk on caregiving burden; and (3) To examine the impact of careprovision and perceived risk on the quality of mother-daughter relationship.

Study:“Psychosocial Burden of Cancer Caregiving in Aged Parents”
Principal Investigator: Victoria H. Raveis
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Mental Health, Mental Disorders of the Aging Research Branch

Overview: This study is investigating the psychosocial impact over the disease course on adult daughters of assuming careprovision to elderly parents diagnosed with cancer. The specific aims are: (1) To explore circumstances that increase risk of daughters’ psychological morbidity; (2) To identify factors that constrain or facilitate care provision; and, (3) To assess changes in risk and protective over illness course.

End of Life Care

Study:“Facilitating Older Spouses’ Adjustment to Widowhood: A Preventive Intervention Program for Minority Elderly”
Principal Investigator: Victoria H. Raveis
Funder: Dannheisser Trust

Overview: This investigation is developing and implementing a short-term, psycho-educational support program for minority elders facing spouses’ impending death. The specific aims are: (1) To pilot the program; (2) To assess feasibility and acceptability of the program; and (3) To identify pathways and linkages to services.

Study:“Care Preferences and Life Priorities of PWAs near Death”
Principal Investigator: Victoria H. Raveis
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Nursing Research

Overview: This investigation is focused on HIV/AIDS patients in the final stages of the disease course and is designed to explore their experiences and obtaining insights to optimize the end-of-life trajectory. The specific aims are: (1) To explore patient’s & caregiver’s understanding & priorities about care & QOL at end-of-life; (2) To examine communication between dying patients, their families & health care clinicians; and (3) To examine adherence to dying patient’s wishes.

Study:“Self-Care Among Cancer Patients at the End of Life”
Principal Investigator: Karolynn Siegel
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Nursing Research

Overview: This investigation examines the role of symptom interpretation on self-care behaviors among older cancer patients with advanced disease and their caregivers. The specific aims are: (1) To explore the symptom appraisal process; (2) To examine the coping responses to common HIV symptoms; (3) To examine the kinds of self care activities employed; (4) To examine the emotional responses to common symptoms; and (5) To explore the role caregivers play in cancer symptom management.

Study:“Evaluation and Support Center for End of Life Care Initiative”
Principal Investigator: Victoria H. Raveis
Funder: Human Resources and Services Administration, Special Projects of National Significance

Overview: This investigation is conducting a multi-site evaluation of national demonstration programs delivering palliative care to underserved populations with HIV/AIDS. The specific aims are: (1) To establish an evaluation and support center; (2) To direct evaluation and monitoring of demonstration programs; and (3) To disseminate program findings.

Study:“Facilitating Older Spouses’ Adjustment to Spousal Death”
Principal Investigator: Victoria H. Raveis
Funder: NIH/National Institute of Mental Health and National Cancer Institute

Overview: This investigation is delivering and assessing efficacy and implementation of a preventive psycho-educational intervention in facilitating bereaved older spouses’ adjustment to spousal loss due to cancer. The specific aims are: (1) To evaluate efficacy in reducing morbidity and mortality; (2) To assess utility of risk profile in identifying high risk spouses; and, (3) To assess efficacy of intervention in reducing adverse outcomes in highest risk group.