Established in late 1997, The Center for the Psychosocial Study of Health and Illness, within the Department of Sociomedical Sciences, is a multidisciplinary research group. Center team members are engaged in work in variety of areas related to the psychological, social, contextual factors which shape individual behaviors that may place them at risk for disease or, if already ill, shape their response to disease-related stressors. At the present time, most of the Center’s research activities are focused on HIV infected and at-risk populations, although psychosocial oncology has been and remains a key interest of the research team.
Directed by Dr. Karolynn Siegel, the Center’s research team has included members from the disciplines of sociology, health psychology, developmental psychology, and anthropology. In addition to research on those living with HIV or cancer, past work of Center members has also focused on the caregivers, spouses and children of these patients. The center is also involved in training students through their participation in carrying out funded investigations, as diversity fellows, and through student placements as part of their degree requirements.
The work of the Center is primarily supported by federal grants. Center members’ research has been funded by NIMH, NIA, NICHD, NINR, NIDA, NIDCR, DOD, and the former AHCPR. The studies employ qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods approaches. Current and recently completely studies have focused on the sexual, reproductive and contraceptive behavior of HIV serodiscordant couples, the use of the Internet by heterosexuals and smartphone GPS apps by men who have sex with men (MSM) for sexual partnering, reasons for disengagement from outpatient care among hospitalized HIV- infected patients, and sexual behavior of men who have sex with men and women (MSMW).