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Kathleen A. Parks, PhD

Kathleen A. Parks, PhD

Senior Research Scientist

Behavioral Psychology

Research Associate Professor, Community Health and Health Behavior

Contact Information

1021 Main Street
Buffalo, NY  14203-1016
Phone: (716) 887-3301

Primary Research Areas

Women’s substance use and misuse; victimization; drinking contexts.

College Student’s Perceptions of the Positive and Negative Consequences of Non-Medical Prescription Drug (NMPD) Use

Parks | Darrow | Hequembourg | Lisman | Muraven
Researchers will study non-medical prescription drug use among college students and assess what types of drugs are being used, why they are being used and the consequences.

This two year research project focuses on non-medical prescription drug (NMPD) use among college students. It involves a collaborative effort among scientists at three SUNY campuses (Buffalo, Binghamton, and Albany) with expertise in public health, wellness education, sociology, and psychology (clinical, social). The two phase research plan includes initial focus groups with students who report use of NMPDs to inform the development of specific measures to assess student perceptions of the types of NMPDs being used, motives for use, and the positive and negative consequences of use. The second phase involves the use of these measures in a web-based survey distributed to 3000 students across the three SUNY campuses. The research is intended to foster larger federally funded future projects targeted toward developing prevention intervention programs to reduce NMPD use on college campuses. Dr. Parks’ co-investigators on the study include Sherri Darrow, University at Buffalo, Student Health & Wellness, Stephen Lisman, SUNY Binghamton and Mark Muraven, SUNY Albany. Funded by a grant of $99,627 from SUNY/RF Collaborative Fund. 2013-2016.

Men’s Alcohol Use and Perpetration of Sexual Aggression

Testa | Leonard | Parks
The role of college men’s alcohol use in sexual aggression perpetration will be examined using 1) a prospective survey study over five semesters and 2) a 56-day daily report study considering whether drinking episodes increase the odds of subsequent sexual aggression.

In this project, Dr. Testa and colleagues will consider the impact of men’s alcohol consumption on their perpetration of sexual aggression. Two studies of college freshman males are being conducted following recruitment of 1,850 participants from two entering cohorts of male freshmen. In the first study, web-based, prospective survey methods will be used to examine whether the frequency of heavy episodic drinking predicts subsequent sexual aggression over the first five semesters of college. In a second study, a subsample of 324 men will make eight weeks of daily reports on drinking and sexual behavior using interactive voice response (IVR) technology. It is hypothesized that the relationship between alcohol use and sexual aggression is moderated by several individual differences variables, such as sex-related alcohol expectancies, hostile masculinity, and impersonal sexuality. These moderators will be considered both at the distal, prospective level and also at the proximal, daily level. Findings from the two studies are expected to provide significant new knowledge about the role of alcohol in men’s perpetration of sexual aggression and aid in the development of efficacious sexual aggression prevention programs. Funded with a grant of $2,078,526 from NIAAA, 2010-2015.

Video Vignettes: Measuring Risk Perception in Alcohol Related Sexual Assaults

Parks | Testa | Dearing | Hequembourg
Researchers are developing short video clips of potential assault scenarios to help women better understand the nonverbal cues that could indicate the risk of sexual assault.

Prior research suggests that a woman’s ability to perceive or interpret cues about a potential sexual assault can be influenced by alcohol consumption and her history of prior assault. In the past, research designed to assess deficits in women’s ability to perceive risk cues for sexual assault have utilized written and audio vignettes. In this study, Dr. Kathleen A. Parks and colleagues are developing video vignettes, that will include nonverbal (e.g. facial expressions) risk cues that can not be presented in the more traditional written and audio vignettes. The hope is that these video vignettes, by including nonverbal, verbal, and environmental risk cues, will provide a more realistic depiction of a sexual assault scenario. The primary goal of developing more realistic scenarios with these imbedded risk cues is to be able to more accurately assess women’s ability to perceive risks for sexual assault during heterosexual drinking situations. Development and validation of this measure will occur through a rigorous, multi-method process involving five small studies. These include the development of the vignette scripts through focus groups, individual, and expert feedback, and validation of the different levels (ambiguous, low and high risk) of risk cues, through presentation to women during sober and moderate alcohol conditions. Future goals include the development of unique prevention programs using the video vignette measure as a training tool for improving women’s risk perception, thereby reducing sexual assault risk. Funded by a grant of $416,063 from NIAAA, 2011-2014.

College Women: The Alcohol and Victimization Link

UB Women's Connection logo

This five-year longitudinal project utilized a web-based survey, as well as state-of-the-science daily data collection methods, to examine the relationship between alcohol consumption and victimization experiences (verbal, physical, sexual) among a cohort of college women. Nearly 1,000 women who entered college during the fall of 2004 participated in a brief, web-based survey each fall for five years. Findings indicated that rates of sexual victimization were highest in the first year of college and decreased over the remaining years at school. In addition, women who drank prior to entering college were at greater risk of physical and sexual victimization during their first year in college than women who did not drink prior to entering college. Nearly 200 women from the larger sample provided daily data over an eight-week period each spring for four years beginning during the spring of 2005. Based on these data, we found that women were substantially more likely to experience verbal, physical and sexual victimization on days of heavy drinking (four or more drinks) compared to days of no drinking. Women were not at increased risk of victimization on days of non-heavy drinking (less than four drinks) compared to days of no drinking. These findings suggest that college is a time when young women are vulnerable to victimization, particularly when consuming alcohol at rates equivalent or higher than four standard drinks on one drinking occasion. This project was funded by a grant of $1,844,750, from NIAAA, 2004-2010.

Women Bar Drinkers: Exploring Risks for HIV

Parks | Collins | Buddie

This study added to knowledge about the role of alcohol in increased risk for heterosexual HIV transmission among women. Dr. Kathleen Parks and colleagues assessed the relationships among alcohol use, social context, and risky sexual behavior on women bar drinkers risks for HIV. Both unprotected sexual behaviors and sexual assault were viewed as risky sexual behaviors for HIV. The sample consisted of 287 women between the ages of 18 and 30 years of age who were sexually active and reported drinking in bars at least weekly. Dr. Parks’ colleagues include Dr. R. Lorraine Collins, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions, and Dr. Amy Buddie, Department of Psychology, Kennesaw State University, Georgia. Funded by a grant of $1,256,000 from NIAAA, 2003-2008.