Reaching Others University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
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Kurt H. Dermen, PhD

Kurt H. Dermen, PhD

Senior Research Scientist

Clinical Psychology

Contact Information

1021 Main Street
Buffalo, NY  14203-1016
Phone: (716) 887-2492
Email: dermen@ria.buffalo.edu

Primary Research Areas

Motivational and behavioral interventions for substance abuse treatment, health risk reduction, and health promotion; alcohol's influence on risky sexual behavior and sexual aggression.

Alcohol and Energy Drink Use, Expectancies and Sexual Risk Taking

Miller | Dermen | Lucke
This study will assess the use of caffeinated energy drinks by U.S. adolescents and young adults (age 13-25) and will examine links between sexual risk-taking and the use of energy drinks mixed with alcohol.

Energy drink (ED) use, particularly when mixed with alcohol (AED), is a rapidly emerging but understudied phenomenon that has been linked with both problem drinking and unsafe sexual activity. This study will recruit a longitudinal survey sample of 3,000 U.S. youth aged 13-25 in order to (1) provide the first detailed, nationally representative descriptive portrait of ED and AED use in adolescents and emerging adults, (2) examine event-level and prospective relationships among AED use, AED expectancies, and sexual risk-taking, and (3) assess the role of gender in moderating those links. The study will foster a theoretically coherent and empirically sound basis for understanding the relationships among these potentially health-compromising  behaviors. We expect that the findings will inform the future development of more effective screening, intervention, and regulatory strategies for reducing AED-related risky sexual activity. Dr. Miller’s co-investigators include RIA’s Dr. Kurt Dermen and Dr. Joseph Lucke. Funded by a grant of $1,374,875 from NIAAA, 2013-2016.

Dissemination of a MI-based Preparatory Procedure

This study investigated the dissemination and “real world” effectiveness of a motivational interviewing-(MI)-based preparatory procedure designed to reduce early attrition from alcoholism outpatient treatment. In order to study dissemination and adoption of the procedure, 150 New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) alcoholism outpatient clinics were randomly assigned to one of three dissemination conditions. Researchers examined the clinic sites’ rates of client retention and client treatment outcome prior to and following dissemination. Funded by a grant of $2,670,633 from NIAAA, 2004-2011.

Changes in Women’s HIV Risk Following Alcohol Treatment

Women in treatment for alcohol problems are at heightened risk for infection with HIV. Alcohol use may contribute directly or indirectly to risk in this population. The goals of this research project were to evaluate cross-sectionally, before and after treatment for alcohol abuse or dependence, the acute and global relationships of alcohol use and other factors to HIV risk-related behavior; to evaluate prospectively hypotheses regarding the extent to which baseline characteristics are predictive of change in HIV risk behavior during the year after entry into alcoholism treatment; and to evaluate prospectively, the extent to which women’s participation in treatment, exposure to HIV risk-reduction education and counseling, and changes in alcohol use mediate change. The protocol tested an Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills model of HIV preventive behavior in an ethnically diverse sample of women entering either outpatient (n=300) or inpatient (n=150) treatment. Funded by a grant of $2,412,860 from NIAAA, 2005-2011.

Brief Motivational Intervention to Promote Oral Health

Dermen | Ciancio | Connors

Oral disease is highly prevalent among individuals undergoing inpatient treatment for alcohol dependence. This project consisted of two phases of research with this population. During phase one, a brief Motivational Oral and Dental Health Promotion intervention was developed with the goal of improving personal oral hygiene and utilization of community-based oral health preventive and treatment services. During phase two, a randomized pilot trial of the motivational intervention was conducted. The study was a collaboration between Drs. Kurt Dermen and Gerard Connors, RIA, and Dr. Sebastian Ciancio, UB School of Dental Medicine. Funded by a grant of $597,965 from NIDCR, 2005-2009.

Restraint and Attributions: Risk Factors in Alcohol Abuse

Collins | Dermen

This four-year grant extended Dr. R. Lorraine Collins’ previous program of research (1988-2003) on the drinking behavior of young adults (ages 21 to 30 years) as they moved from being social drinkers to developing drinking problems. The grant involved three studies. The first study examined affect, restraint, and other psychosocial variables involved in alcohol use. The second was a laboratory study in which the researchers induced moods and examined the effects on drinking. The third, an intervention study, examined whether changing individuals’ affective states influencde their drinking behavior over time. Funded by a grant of $1,569,584 from NIAAA, 2003-2008.

Facilitating Involvement in AA During Alcoholism Outpatient Treatment

 In this five year project, Dr. Kimberly Walitzer assessed the effectiveness of two strategies designed to facilitate involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous during a 12-session outpatient alcoholism treatment program. The “motivational” strategy focused on enhancement of clients’ motivation towards AA participation. The “directive-confrontive” strategy included AA education, instruction, and attendance contracts. Funded by a grant of $1,442,378 from NIAAA, 1999-2004.

Enhancing HIV Prevention Through Drinking Reduction

Dr. Dermen evaluated the impact of two-session motivational interventions that focused on drinking reduction, HIV risk reduction, and their combination among male and female college students. The relationship between drinking and condom use also was assessed. Analyses of baseline data revealed that alcohol use prior to an occurrence of sexual intercourse was correlated with a greater likelihood of condom use during that occurrence. This was true even when analyses controlled for each student's expectations about the effects of alcohol and the length of the student's relationship with his or her intercourse partner. Analyses of one-year post-intervention follow-up data indicated that the alcohol-focused brief interventions reduced alcohol use but had no impact on sexual risk behavior. The HIV-focused interventions reduced the number of sexual partners reported by students. Frequency of sex without using a condom diminished in all conditions, including a control condition in which no intervention was delivered. Thus, although the brief alcohol-focused motivational intervention appeared to be useful for reducing drinking among college students, reducing college students' alcohol use did not appear to be an effective method of increasing HIV-preventive behavior such as condom use. Funded by a grant of $1,442,033 from NIAAA, 1998-2003.