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Our trainees and faculty members engage in cutting-edge, translational research to develop novel and improved strategies to prevent or treat psychiatric conditions among the medico-surgical patients. The three primary research goals of the Yale PM Service are:

  1. To elucidate etiopathogenesis and discover innovative treatment strategy of common psychiatric syndromes among medico-surgical patients.
  2. To examine the impact of presence, incidence, detection, and treatment of psychiatric co-morbidities in the quality of life, morbidity and mortality of the medico-surgical patients.
  3. To develop innovative ways to efficiently deliver medico-surgical services for mentally ill patients both in the inpatient and outpatient setting and bridge the disparity gap in health service between those with severe mental illness and without.

Research Programs

Health Services
  • Motivational Messages about Alcohol Use during Pregnancy
    Pi: Kim Yonkers, MD; Funding Source: Conway Psychiatry Fellowship. The study is a set of focus groups that are designed to discover barriers and challenges that women face when making decisions to use alcohol during pregnancy. We also hope to learn what would encourage women to not use alcohol during pregnancy. The information learned will be used to create motivational text messages that will be sent to women to encourage them to not drink during pregnancy.
  • Behavioral Intervention Team: A Model of Proactive, Multidisciplinary CL Psychiatry Service
    PI: W. Sledge, MD; Funding Source: The George D and Esther S Gross Professorship Endowment.
    The goal of this on-going study is to assess the quality and cost-effectiveness of an innovative, proactive model of screening for psychiatric issues among and delivering mental health services to medical inpatients with psychiatric co-morbidity.
Transplant Psychiatry
  • Body image beliefs in living liver donors
    PI: P. Zimbrean, MD; Funding Source: Yale Transplant Psychiatry Development Fund.
    This prospective study examines the body-image beliefs and psychological well being in living liver donor candidates.
  • Transplant psychiatry training- a curriculum for advanced psychiatry trainees
    PI: PI: P.Zimbrean, MD. Funding Source: Yale Transplant Psychiatry Development Fund.
    This study is assessing the effect of a teaching curriculum in Transplant Psychiatry upon the level of knowledge and communication skills of psychiatric trainees.
PMS, Perinatal, and Postpartum Psychiatry
  • Perinatal Attentional Retraining Intervention for Smoking (PARIS) for Minority Women
    P.I. A. Forray, MD; Funding Source: NIMHD R21
    The overarching goal of this pilot project is to test a novel technique, the use of smartphones to administer attentional retraining (AR) as a potential intervention for smoking relapse prevention in postpartum African American and Hispanic women. AR, via a modified visual probe task, will target both smoking cues and stress cues. Our central hypothesis is that reducing attentional bias (AB) using AR will blunt cue-provoking smoking cravings after delivery, attenuate stress, and reduce smoking lapses. The objective of this application is to confirm the feasibility and culturally appropriate process parameters of the study procedures, and obtain preliminary data on the efficacy of the AR intervention in this population.
  • Prenatal Substance Use Screening Measures
    P.I. Kimberly Yonkers, MD; Funding source: Centers for Disease Control, R21 DP006082-01
    This study would test the validity and reliability of 6 screening measures for substance use and misuse in pregnancy.
  • Progesterone for Smoking Relapse Postpartum: Feasibility, Breastfeeding and Infant Safety
    PI: A. Forray, MD; Funding Source: NIDA R21.
    The purpose of this study is to examine the utility of oral micronized progesterone as an intervention to prevent smoking relapse in postpartum women.
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment and Postpartum Smoking Relapse: A Pilot Study.
    PI: A. Forray, MD; Funding Source: NIDA K12.
    This is a pilot study using ecological momentary assessments (EMA) to evaluate the impact of situational and affective stimuli on relapse to smoking in the postpartum period. Abstinent smokers, recruited during pregnancy, are asked to carry a small handheld computer (PDA) which will prompt the women to complete an assessment about cravings, affect and environmental cues at four random times per day. The results from this study will provide an assessment of the process of relapse in relation to a number of covariates.

Visit the Center for Wellbeing of Women and Mothers website.

Chronic Pain and Obesity
  • Neural Mechanisms of Obesity in Chronic Low Back Pain
    PI: P. Geha, MD; Funding Source NIDA K08
    The purpose of this grant is to examine the interrelation between chronic pain and obesity using psychophysical testing and functional brain imaging. Chronic pain is associated with changes in the limbic system; the limbic system is in turn critical in determining the risk of over eating in an environment where highly caloric food abounds. Therefore, the project examines pain patients’ response to food and feeding behavior early in the course of their back pain and one year later as they convert or not to the chronic phase.
Cancer / Tobacco Treatment
  • Gain-framed Messages and NRT Sampling to Promote Smoking Cessation in Lung Cancer Screening Programs PI: Benjamin Toll, PhD; Yale Site PI: Lisa Fucito, PhD. Funding Source: NCI R01. The purpose of this study is to test a combined behavioral and pharmacological tobacco intervention for promoting smoking cessation among smokers receiving lung cancer screening.
  • Expanding Cessation Services to all Tobacco-Using Patients within the Yale Cancer Center Network NCI – C3i Initiative, P30 CA016359-S. PI: Fuchs, Fucito. This service implementation project will target tobacco-related risks in cancer patients at Yale Cancer Center. The goal is to increase the number who are screened and treated for tobacco use across the Yale Cancer Center Network statewide.
Sickle Cell
  • Psychiatric Screening of Adults Living with Sickle Cell
    PI: A. Forray, MD; Funding Source: Adult Sickle Cell Fund
    The purpose of this study is to screen adults living with sickle cell disease for psychiatric disorders and symptoms and determine the impact of psychiatric conditions on patient outcomes such as inpatient hospitalizations, emergency room visits, adherence to treatment and opiate medication utilization.
  • Resting State Connectivity and Pain Processing in Adults with Sickle Cell Disease
    PI: A. Forray, MD; Funding Source: Adult Sickle Cell Fund
    While acute episodes of pain are the hallmark of sickle cell disease, many patients also experience chronic daily pain. Intrinsic brain connectivity has been shown to play a role in sickle cell related pain. The default mode network (DMN) has been implicated in the expression and modulation of spontaneous chronic pain. The purpose of this study is to utilize functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess the resting state connectivity of adults with SCD and its potential link to frequent hospitalizations and high pain burden.
Medical Education
  • Implementation of a Curriculum in Psychosomatic Medicine
    Pi: P. Zimbrean; Funding Source: Funding Source: Fullbright Foundation. This project will evaluate the effectiveness of implementing a psychosomatic medicine didactic curriculum in an Eastern European country without current formal training in the field.
Sleep Medicine
  • Development of a Multimodal Mobile Sleep Intervention Using Wearable Technology to Reduce Heavy Drinking in Young Adults PI: Fucito, L. Funding: NIAAA R34AA026021. The current proposal will develop and test a mobile sleep/alcohol self-monitoring + sleep/alcohol data feedback intervention in 120 heavy-drinking young adults. The primary objective is to evaluate sleep intervention component feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy on alcohol outcomes to inform a Stage II randomized trial comparing the final sleep intervention with a standard alcohol intervention. Ultimately, this research could result in an efficacious, low-cost intervention that has broad population reach through the use of technology and a substantial public health impact by reducing alcohol use disorder risk at a crucial developmental stage.
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Photo by David Griffin
Kimberly Yonkers, MD