Dwain C Fehon PsyD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; Chief Psychologist, Psychiatric Services, Yale New Haven Hospital; Director, Behavioral Medicine Service

Research Interests

Behavioral medicine; Resilience; Coping with chronic illness; Quality of life; Adolescent and young adult development; Depression; Psychotherapy

Current Projects

Psychiatric, psychological, and behavioral correlates in patients with end-stage liver disease awaiting organ transplantation. This exploratory study recruited and assessed 125 waitlisted liver transplant candidates using self-report measures of emotional adjustment and quality of life. This study is in the phase of data analysis and manuscript preparation (Dr. Dwain Fehon, Primary Investigator).

Development of the Yale Liver Transplant Psychosocial Risk Scale (YLTRS). This study attempts to develop and validate a brief, evidence-based, clinician administered scale to assess level of psychosocial risk among liver transplant candidates (Dr. Dwain Fehon, Primary Investigator).

A Pre-Transplant Behavioral Weight Loss Treatment Trial for Patients with End-Stage Liver Disease. This is a Stage 1A treatment development study to examine the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of an group behavioral weight loss intervention for liver transplant candidates (Dr. Dwain Fehon, Primary Investigator).

Relapse Prevention for Organ Transplant Patients with Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders: A Novel Treatment for Liver Candidates. This Stage IA study will compare an 8-session individual Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention intervention to treatment-as-usual (TAU) in a sample of liver transplant candidates (Dr. Kelly DeMartini, Primary Investigator; Dr. Dwain Fehon, Co-investigator).

Text Messaging to Reduce Alcohol Relapse in Liver Transplant Patients. This study is an 8-week, randomized controlled pilot trial to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of a text-messaging intervention for alcohol relapse prevention and stress reduction in 20 liver transplant patients with alcohol-related liver disease (Dr. Benjamin Toll, Primary Investigator; Dr. Dwain Fehon, Co-investigator).

Support care needs, quality of life and relationship satisfaction of couples coping with prostate cancer: a cross cultural comparison between Chinese and American couples. This cross-cultural study is examining quality of life and relationship satisfaction of Chinese and American couples who are coping with the new diagnosis of prostate cancer. Recruitment is underway a Smilow Cancer hospital and the Third Affiliated Hospital of Kungming Medical University, Kunming, China (Dr. Dwain Fehon, Primary Investigator).


Research Summary

My clinical, teaching, and research interests fall into several basic areas: a) the development and provision of behavioral medicine services, b) psychotherapy to adolescents, adults and families, c) psychological and neuropsychological assessment, and d) the coordination of predoctoral internship training in clinical psychology within YNHH and YNHPH.

The majority of my research interests have focused on the developmental period of adolescence and the impact that traumatic events, such as childhood abuse and the exposure to community violence played in the development and symptomatic expression of psychopathology—specifically as related to adolescent depression, aggression, substance abuse, PTSD, and personality dysfunction.

More recently, however, my clinical and research interests have shifted to behavioral medicine and the relationship between physical illness, emotional functioning, and quality of life. Clinically, my colleagues and I have developed a psychological behavioral medicine service that is integrated within the Yale New Haven Hospital Transplantation Center, Cancer Center, and Epilepsy Program. Within these settings, we have initiated several pilot studies to examine the psychological, behavioral, and neuropsychiatric comorbidities among patients facing serious, chronic, and sometimes life threatening illnesses. We are also interested in exploring the feasibility and effectiveness of novel therapies to reduce the risk of adverse stress-related symptoms such as drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety and PTSD in these vulnerable patient populations.


Selected Publications

  • Yalch M, Hopwood C, Fehon D, Grilo C. The influence of borderline personality features on inpatient adolescent suicide risk. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, In Press.
  • Hopwood C, Ansell E, Fehon D, Grilo C. The mediational significance of negative/depressive affect in the relationship of childhood maltreatment and eating disorder features in adolescent psychiatric inpatients. Eating and Weight Disorders, 16: 2011
  • Hopwood C, Ansell E, Fehon D, Grilo C. Personality Heterogeneity in Female Adolescent Inpatients with Features of Eating Disorders. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 51(6):585-591, 2010.
  • Zaitsoff SL, Fehon DC, Grilo CM. Social Competence and Social-Emotional Isolation and Eating Disorder Psychopathology in Female and Male Adolescent Psychiatric Inpatients. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 2009, 9:2, 219-228.
  • Fehon DC. The cycle of youth violence. Psychiatric Times, 2007, 24:7, 44-47.
  • Sullivan TP, Fehon DC, Andres-Hyman R, Lipschitz DS, Grilo CM. Differential relationships of childhood abuse and neglect subtypes to PTSD symptom clusters among adolescent inpatients. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2006, 19:2,229-23.
  • Fehon DC, Grilo CM, Lipschitz DS. A comparison of adolescent inpatients with and without a history of violence perpetration: Impulsivity, PTSD, and violence risk. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 2005, 193:6, 405-411.
  • Fehon DC, Grilo CM, Lipschitz D. Gender differences in violence exposure and violence risk among psychiatrically hospitalized adolescents. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 2001, 189:4, 532-540.
  • Fehon DC, Grilo CM, Lipschitz D. Correlates of community violence exposure in hospitalized adolescents. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 2001, 42:4, 283-290.

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