Current Research Areas of Interest

Substance Use

Many youth and young adults are exposed to substance use-related content via social media. We are using social media for insights into drug use behaviors, especially use of newly emerging drugs that are increasing in popularity. This information will help us understand how social media can be used for delivering substance use messages to young people.

Depression

As more and more people engage with social media, it is important to learn the motivations of individuals who publicly post about their depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm struggles via postings on social media. We are seeking to understand why this type of social networking occurs online and how it impacts users’ overall mental health.

Eating Disorders

There is increasing concern about online communities that promote eating disorder (ED) behaviors. We are exploring innovative strategies for online, accessible, and timely ED-related outreach that could facilitate novel ways to utilize social media in mental health promotion and prevention initiatives.

Our Team

Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, PhD

Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, PhD

Associate Professor, Principle Investigator

Dr. Patricia Cavazos-Rehg is the principal investigator (PI) of iCHASM. She is a clinically-trained licensed psychologist who has been involved in biomedical research for over 10 years. After receiving her Ph.D. in Psychology from SUNY at Buffalo in 2004, she moved to Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) in St. Louis, MO to begin her research career, focusing on understanding how policy and social media shape health risk behaviors of young people. In addition to her research, she is also a dedicated Associate Professor and was voted “Course Master of the Year” by students enrolled in the Master of Science in Applied Health Behavior Research program at WUSM.

 

Shaina Costello, MPH

Senior Clinical Research Coordinator

Ms. Costello is a trained Behavioral Scientist and has been Dr. Cavazos’ research coordinator since October 2014. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan before obtaining her MPH at Saint Louis University. Ms. Costello has extensive experience in research-based public health practice and has coordinated large, collaborative projects.

Melissa Garcia, LMSW

Project Manager

Ms. Garcia is a Licensed Social Worker.  She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of New Mexico where she majored in Family Studies.  Ms. Garcia obtained her master’s in social work at the University of Alabama, where her emphasis was on children and adolescents.  She has experience working high risk populations and has focused on the intervention and prevention of family maltreatment.

Missy Krauss, MPH

Research Statistician

Ms. Krauss has over ten years of experience analyzing and interpreting data from public health studies, including youth substance use and mental health. She has experience in both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analytic methods, with extensive experience developing and analyzing survey data, thematic analysis of qualitative data, and social network analysis.

Jane Steible

Health Counselor

Ms. Steible completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She has over 3 years of experience working in research as a smoking cessation counselor here at Washington University where she has enrolled over 400 study participants. Jane has vast experience in study recruitment, counseling and assessment of research participants and has interest in addiction treatment and recovery.

Caroline Min

Research Assistant

Ms. Min is an MD/MPH candidate at Washington University (WU). Before beginning her medical training at WU School of Medicine, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. She hopes to specialize in Obstetrics and Gynecology. With one final year left in her medical training, she is now a graduate student of public health at WU Brown School. Within public health, she is interested in women’s, maternal-fetal, sexual, and reproductive health, and cancer disparities and prevention. She has experience working in medical and public health research.

Nnenna Anako

Research Assistant

Ms. Anako is an MPH candidate specializing in Health Policy Analysis at Washington University. She attended the University of Arizona where she double majored in Psychology and Sociology. She has conducted research on the social and cultural implications of the Gold King Mine spill for Native American communities. After her undergraduate degree, Nnenna worked as a counselor, focusing on substance abuse, domestic violence and life skills. She is interested in mental healthcare access and policies for low income and under-served communities.

Micah Goodman

Programmer

Mr. Goodman graduated from Washington University with a degree in computer science.  He has experience in social science research and app development. He’s particularly interested in using technology to expand access to high quality mental health help.

Nina Kaiser

Research Assistant

Miss Kaiser is a rising junior at Saint Louis University. Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, along with minors in Health Care Ethics and Biology, she hopes to eventually study medicine. Having interned with iCHASM three years ago, she has experience working with the research team, as well as additional research experience studying the Opioid Crisis. She returns to the team this summer to work as a Research Assistant.

Christine Xu

Research Assistant

Ms. Xu is an MPH candidate specializing in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Brown School at Washington University. She received her undergraduate degree in pharmaceutical engineering from Chengdu University of Technology in China. She is interested in psychiatric epidemiology, psychiatric genetics, health behavior, developmental psychology, and psychoanalysis. Ms. Xu has experience examining risk factors and psychiatric comorbidity of eating disorders and social anxiety disorder, and the effects of child maltreatment using data from genetically informative, longitudinal study designs. She is also conducting biostatistics research on reproducibility.

Jimmy Lam

AHBR Intern

Mr. Lam is currently pursuing an MS in Applied Health Behavior Research. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychological and Brian Sciences here at Washington University. Some of his research interests include drug addiction, depression, and health behavior. He has prior research experience studying cervical cancer, specifically HPV.

Recent Findings

Supportive social networking on Reddit

In this study we examine a supportive and accessible subreddit for individuals with the desire to quit cannabis use and highlight the potential of online communities as tools for individuals coping with addiction recovery.

Depression on Tumblr

We establish a baseline picture of the depression, self-harm, and suicidal ideation content on Tumblr that can serve as a starting point for discussions of this topic in the mental health community.

lmpact of Policy on Youth Tobacco Use

We confirmed that higher cigarette prices could help to reduce youth tobacco use behaviors. Several states still lag behind in terms of their low cigarette tax and should enact tax policies to reduce youth tobacco use.

Marijuana Advertising

We surveyed young adult marijuana users and over half reported viewing marijuana ads — either online or in more traditional forms of advertising such as billboards and print media.

News & Events

Southwestern School for Behavioral Health Studies Conference in Tuscon, AZ - August 2018

Celebrating a successful conference presentation with our industry partner, iTether, LLC, where we shared our collaborative work developing a mobile app to assist individuals with opioid use disorder.

From left to right: Demetrie Petkas (iTether), Patty Cavazos (iCHASM director), Sean Gunderson (iTether CEO)

UMSL STARS ceremony - July 2018

We love being a part of the STARS program! This year Dr. Cavazos was recognized with 5 years of service to the program. Here she celebrates with our STARS alumni and current RA, Nina.

Dr. Cavazos goes to Washington, D.C. - April. 2018

While attending the Association for Clinical and Translational Sciences annual meeting, Dr. Cavazos had the opportunity to meet with Senator Roy Blunt’s team to discuss our research.

WUSTL Institute for Public Health Conference - Sept. 2017

We love sharing our findings! Here our research assistant, Liz Cahn, presents our preliminary research on depression on social media at this year’s 10th annual conference: Why Science Matters: The Case for Evidence-Based Public Health

 

Dr. Cavazos-Rehg appointed Director of the Mentored Training Program in Clinical Investigation - July 2017

MTPCI provides research training to promote the career development of junior faculty and postdoctoral fellows. Congratulations to Dr. Cavazos-Rehg on this exciting new role!

NCADA Coalition on Addictions Presentation - April 2017

Senior Clinical Research Coordinator, Shaina Sowles, presented research findings relating to marijuana on social media to coalition members.