Psychology Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Harm Reduction Research and Treatment (HaRRT) Center - working with homeless individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds to reduce substance-related harm and improve quality of life

To find out about this 499 opportunity contact:

Contact name: Seema Clifasefi
Telephone: (206) 713-2812

Faculty Information

Faculty Advisor:
Department: Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Psychology

Does faculty advisor meet with students?

If yes, how often? Dr. Collins will meet with students once weekly.

Direct supervisor of students:

Susan Collins, Emily Taylor
Supervisor Title: Susan Collins, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington - Harborview Medical Center. Emily Taylor, BS, is a UW Psychology graduate and is the primary HaRRT Center Research Coordinator for the Psych 499 students.
Will 499 students participate in weekly or biweekly discussions sessions about research or project?

Short Project Description

The Harm-reduction Research and Treatment(HaRRT) center is led by Drs. Susan E. Collins and Seema Clifasefi ( Our mission is to develop, implement, evaluate and disseminate interventions that aim to reduce substance-related harm and improve quality of life for affected individuals and their communities without requiring abstinence from substance use. We work primarily with homeless individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds as well as the agencies that serve them. Currently projects that are open for PSYCH499 participation include: 1)The Life Enhancing Alcohol-management Program 2.0 (LEAP 2.0) (PI: Clifasefi) builds on a longstanding partnership between the UW HaRRT Center and housing first residents, staff, and management of DESC. The pilot program was developed through a community based participatory research framework, and entails low-barrier, community-level, house-wide resident programming—including leadership opportunities, activities, and pathways to recovery. Results from the pilot indicated that LEAP participants reported more engagement in meaningful activities than their control counterparts. Further, higher levels of engagement with the LEAP predicted significant reductions in alcohol use and alcohol-related harm. To build on these promising findings, in LEAP 2.0, we will be conducting a 10-site, cluster-randomized controlled trial to assess LEAP's impact on substance use, health, cost and service utilization, as well as quality of life outcomes. 2) The HaRTS-TRENDS study (PI: Collins) is the follow-up to the prior single-arm HaRT-S pilot and continues the prior study’s partnership between the UW, Washington State University and the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC). This 2-arm, 12-month pilot RCT (N=94) will test the efficacy of HaRTS-TRENDS versus brief advice to quit among smokers receiving services at a community-based agency that provides supportive housing to single adults experiencing chronic homelessness. Specifically, we will test group differences on complete switchover to safer nicotine use as well as tobacco-specific nitrosamines, the primary group of cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco. 3) The HaRTC study (PIs: Collins and Nelson) is a 3-phase study that comprises the adaptation and randomized controlled trial of harm-reduction talking circles (HaRTC) for urban Native primary care patients experiencing AUD. We expect HaRTC will increase patients’ enculturation, which will, in turn, precipitate a reduction in alcohol-related harm, improvement in quality of life, and a decrease in publicly funded service utilization and associated costs. Our partners on HaRTC include WSU’s Partnerships for Native Health and SIHB. HaRTC is a 5-year NIAAA-funded project that is 1 of 3 other projects that will be conducted within WSU’s Native Center for Alcohol Research and Education (NCARE). The larger Center will focus on training Native researchers and providers, supporting the 3 featured projects with methods and statistical advising, and working with Native communities to develop approaches to address alcohol-related harm. 4) The HaRP study (PI: Collins) is the follow-up to a prior single-arm pilot, Project Vivitrol. In this four-arm, NIH-funded randomized controlled trial, we are testing extended-release naltrexone and harm reduction counseling as ways to reduce alcohol-related harm and improve quality of life among people experiencing homelessness and severe alcohol use disorder. This study began in August 2013 and is currently in its completion phase. We are looking for responsible, motivated students to work with us on these innovative research projects. In working on these studies, students will learn to prepare research materials, enter and manage research data (including learning how to calculate blood alcohol levels!), qualitatively code and quantitatively analyze data. Students will also be exposed to the exciting world of Harborview and will be responsible for running biological specimens to HMC labs. More advanced students who stay for more than one quarter may have the opportunity to conduct assessments or interviews in the field. One very popular feature of this 499 is that you will receive training via a weekly research methods classes. In this class, we use actual study data, come up with research questions, conduct qualitative and/or quantitative analyses (excel, atlas.ti, SPSS), and create a poster and/or paper. Interested students have the option of presenting this poster at the Undergraduate Research Fair or professional conferences. These opportunities will build your CV in ways to prepare you for grad school or jobs in research. We value diversity and are committed to creating and maintaining an environment that respects diverse identities, traditions, heritages, and experiences. If you are interested, please send us a copy of your CV/resume and your unofficial UW transcript, and we will set up a personal interview time. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Work Schedule

Min. number of hours/weekstudent must work: 6
Evenings/weekends OK? Yes
Times a student must bepresent/work: Our timing is relatively flexible, and we will work out the schedule with you personally. You also must be able to commit to our Tuesday afternoon research methods class that meets from 3-5pm.
Student commitment: We require at least a 2-credit per 2-quarter commitment so you can attend the full research methods course that we offer as part of the PSYCH 499 credit.

499 Responsibilities

Working with Data Working with Subjects Working with Animals/physiology
50 % data entry 0 % video taping 0 % animal care
10 % database management 0 % interview subjects 0 % animal observation
20 % encoding data 0 % scheduling appt 0 % surgical techniques
10 % library research 0 % running subjects 0 % histology
0 % data collection 0 % child care 10 % laboratory protocols
0 % recruiting subjects

Other:We work at Harborview, which is a really great place to get experience! Students must be willing to commute to the researchers’ offices in the Patricia Steel building in the Harborview Medical Center. We recommend taking the free Health Sciences Express bus from the UW campus, which runs regularly throughout the day (see express bus schedule:

Skills / Experience Preferred

Experience with REDCap and Excel is preferred. We will teach you how to use atlas.ti and/or SPSS! Experience working with multicultural and/or homeless populations is a plus.