Jeffrey T. Parsons
Department of Psychology
Hunter College, Room 611 North
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Hunter Tel: (212) 772-5533
CHEST office Tel: (212) 206-7919 x900
Fax (212) 206-7994
Link to Center for HIV/AIDS Education Studies & Training (CHEST) website: www.chestnyc.org
Current Areas of Research
Dr. Parsons' general research interests are health behaviors (e.g., HIV prevention, HIV medication adherence, sexual behavior, substance use/abuse); GLBTQ issues; interventions designed to change sexual/drug using behaviors among various populations; club drug use (ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamine. He is the Director of the Hunter College Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training (CHEST). All CHEST projects are based on theories of health behavior change and are designed to reduce the spread of HIV and/or to improve the lives of persons with HIV. CHEST's research is conducted off-site at our research center located at 142 West 36th Street.
Active Research Projects
CHEST is currently engaged in a variety of research projects that are at different stages of the research process—some are just beginning to recruit and enroll participants while other projects have completed datasets that are undergoing analyses. For additional information about active projects, see our website: http://chestnyc.org/research-active.html.· For information about becoming an intern or a volunteer, see our website for more details: http://chestnyc.org/about-internships.html.
- One Thousand Strong – We are conducting a nationwide study of 1000 gay men to better understand resilience. So many HIV-focused research projects with gay men focus on all the “problems” – drug use, depression, violence, etc. We want to understand the factors that make the vast majority of gay men capable of engaging in healthy sexual behaviors and living satisfying lives. We are enrolling men online, and will follow them longitudinally for three years.
- T-Talk – Epidemiological data show that transgender women are at significant risk for HIV infection. Yet, there are currently no CDC-approved "best evidence interventions" to reduce HIV risk for transgender women. This study will be the first in NYC to formally evaluate the utility of a scalable peer-delivered intervention aimed at reducing HIV-related sexual risk behaviors and substance use among transgender women. The Girlfriends intervention utilizes motivational interviewing (MI) and cognitive behavioral skills training (CBST) techniques and builds on a successful CDC-funded pilot peer-led group intervention that was designed by Dr. Parsons and his team for transgender women.
- Wellness in Spirituality and Education (WISE) – WISE is an intervention designed to help HIV+ men and women ages 50 and over improve their adherence to HIV medications. WISE is an intervention in which participants will meet one-on-one with a staff member to focus on improving medication adherence, while also considering options for reducing or quitting alcohol and/or drug use and other associated risk behaviors. The primary goal of the project is to test a 12 session intervention that aims to reduce alcohol and drug use and improve HIV self-care among older adults with HIV. A sample of 180 participants will be randomly assigned to one of three study arms. Participants complete two baseline assessments and follow-up assessments at 3 and 6-months with 50 participants also completing a 10-month follow-up.
- Positive Living through Understanding and Support (PLUS) – PLUS is an effectiveness trial where we are testing to see if an intervention we developed to for HIV+ men and women to reduce their alcohol use and improve their HIV medication adherence works in real-world settings – specifically clinics in NYC. We are working with clinics, to train their staff in the delivery of the intervention. We will also be analyzing electronic medical records of clinic participants to assess effects of the intervention.
- The Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity (MITI) Coding Project - CHEST has been subcontracted with several universities and organizations to supervise and give feedback on their intervention counseling sessions that are based in the principles of Motivational Interviewing. To provide the most efficient feedback, videos of treatment sessions are coded using the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity (MITI) Scale, a brief measure of treatment integrity that focuses specifically on therapist behavior rather than the therapeutic process. To be trained in MITI coding, interns must commit to at least two semesters at CHEST due to length of training, meetings and coding of tapes. This is ideally suited for those students interested in pursuing graduate work in clinical or counseling psychology.
Completed Research Projects with Ongoing Data Analyses
- Pillow Talk – This longitudinal study examines the link between sexual compulsivity (SC) and risky sexual behavior in a sample of 400 sexually active gay and bisexual men recruited in NYC. Assessments include a 30-day daily diary of mood, sexual behavior, and substance use, as well as neurocognitive testing and qualitative and quantitative interviews. Utilizing a multi-methods research approach, the primary aim of the study is to identify predictors of HIV-related risk behavior and risk-reduction practices that may distinguish highly sexually active gay and bisexual men who exhibit symptoms of SC and those who do not in order to inform the development of appropriate HIV prevention interventions for both groups of men.
- Young Men’s Health Project (YMHP) - The primary aim of the project was to test a brief four-session risk reduction intervention, based on Motivational Interviewing for the co-occurrence of club drug use [i.e., cocaine, LSD, GHB, ketamine ("K"), MDMA ("Ecstasy"), and methamphetamine ("Crystal")] and sexual risk taking behaviors among non-treatment seeking young men who have sex with men (YMSM) in NYC. A sample of 300 YMSM (ages 18-29) who report risky sex and club drug use in the past 90 days were randomly assigned to one of two study arms and completed a baseline assessment and follow-up assessments at 3, 6, 9, and 12-months in order to assess short-term and longer-term effects. Data analyses are ongoing.
- Project Rx – This study is designed to understand non‐medical prescription drug use among young adults in NYC. This project has 2 key phases. During Phase 1 of the project, the ethnographic ﬁeld team has immersed itself in various bars, nightclubs, and other key venues in order to understand how various subcultures shape the use of prescription drugs by young adults. Phase 2 involves individual interviews and surveys with 400 young adults to better understand patterns and trajectories of prescription drug use and to gain an understanding of the role of social context in these patterns.
- Drinking and Sexual Health (DASH) – This study is designed to test an integrated theoretical model of the association between alcohol consumption and sexual risk behavior among 300 young adults. This model posits that one’s conﬂicting feelings about sexual behavior, coupled with sexual expectancies related to alcohol use, interact to inﬂuence sexual behavior that occurs under the inﬂuence of alcohol. The results of this study will have direct implications for intervention development at the individual, social, and contextual levels.
- The COUPLES, Dads, and Dads2B Projects – The COUPLES project is an online research study of male same-sex couples. We are seeking to learn more about men in same-sex romantic relationships, their sex lives and substance use. The Dads Project is for gay and bisexual fathers living in the NYC area.· Finally, the Dads2B project is for gay and bisexual men living in the NYC area who are currently pursuing fatherhood via surrogacy or adoption.
Students work with us in a variety of capacities - as volunteers, for Independent Study or Independent Research credit, for Work Study, or to gain access to data for Honors Theses or Masters Theses.
Essental and Desirable Background Knowledge and Skills
Required skills vary depending on the project. Overall, however, what is listed below is a good general background.
Reliability, ability to work independently, comfort with ethnically diverse persons, gay/bisexual/transgendered persons, and with sexually explicit language used in our surveys and interviews.
Statistics, typing, English comprehension and writing
All new interns are expected to attend an orientation seminar in the beginning of the semester and a research seminar near the end of the semester. Specific responsibilities will vary depending on the project. However, students may be involved in the following:
Recruitment of potential participants through field-based work
Transcription of qualitative interviews
Coding of qualitative data.
Students will be trained in basic information about HIV, sexual risk behaviors, and substance use. Students will have the opportunity to learn about all phases of community-based research, including recruitment, screening, enrollment, and data collection/ analyses. Students will work with the faculty member, as well as other staff with varied backgrounds (clinical psych, social psych, developmental psych, sociology, public health). Advanced students will have the opportunity to be involved in writing of journal articles and presentations at conferences.