Rani A Hoff MPH, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases); Associate Director, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program; Director, Northeast Program Evaluation Center; Director, Evaluation Division, National Center for PTSD

Research Interests

Female veterans; Gambling disorders; Program Evaluation; Coping behaviors; Problematic Gaming; PTSD; Pain and mental disorders; Suicide prevention

Current Projects

  • Health correlates of compulsive video game playing, shopping, and stealing among high school students in CT
  • Associations between gambling behaviors and other health and risk behaviors in adolescents
  • Gender differences in the association between deployment experiences and substance use and abuse in veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (SERV Study)
    • Use of CAM services in the treatment of PTSD
    • Pain as a mediator of the association between childhood abuse and onset of major depression in adults
    • Predictors of the use of residential treatment services in VA
    • Differential mortality in Veterans with and without mental illness
    • Surgical outcomes in Veterans with and without mental illness
    • Cardiac outcomes in Veterans with and without mental illness
    • Gender differences in the correlates of cutting behavior in adolescents

Research Summary

Dr. Desai’s research utilizes principles of psychiatric epidemiology and services research to examine risk factors and correlates of psychiatric disorders, with particular attention paid to co-occurring disorders and vulnerable populations. This research has included studies on pathological gambling, schizophrenia, substance abuse/dependence, the risk of suicide in psychiatric patients, trauma and comorbidity, criminal justice mental health, and the mental health problems experienced by the homeless and by returning Veterans from the Middle East. At the national level, Dr. Desai regularly advises senior management within the VA Office of Mental Health Operations, the Office of Mental Health services, and other areas of VA Central Office regarding VA performance with respect to mental health services, and the appropriate metrics to evaluate those services nationally. She has also served on several advisory committees to the VA on the mental health needs of female veterans, with particular attention to military sexual trauma. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the Survey of the Experiences of Returning Veterans (SERV) a large VA-funded study of the gender differences in coping behaviors of Veterans returning from military service.


Selected Publications

  • Desai RA, Krishnan-Sarin S, Cavallo D, Potenza MN. Video game playing in high school students: health correlates, gender differences and problematic gaming. Pediatrics. 2010 Nov 15. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:21078729
  • Desai RA, Manley MM, Desai MM, Potenza MN. Gender differences in the association between body mass index and psychopathology. CNS Spectr. 2009 Jul;14(7):372-83. PMID:19773713
  • Desai RA, Potenza MN. Problem and pathological gambling in patients with schizophrenia. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. E-Pub ahead of print, June 16, 2009.
  • Desai RA, Potenza MN. Gender differences in the associations between past-year gambling problems and psychiatric disorders. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. Mar 2008;43(3):173-183.
  • Desai RA, Dausey D, Rosenheck RA. Suicide among discharged psychiatric inpatients in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mil Med. Aug 2008;173(8):721-728.
  • Desai RA, Desai MM, Potenza MN. (2007) Gambling, health, and age: data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors; 21(4): 431-440.

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