The overarching goal of this Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award (K01) is to provide Dr. Ruschelle Leone with the training and research activities needed to become an independent investigator. Her program of research will focus on developing and evaluating innovative integrated programs for heavy episodic drinking, cannabis use, and sexual assault. Research estimates 1 in 5 college women experiences sexual assault. Alcohol, cannabis, and sexual assault victimization have a reciprocal association; alcohol and cannabis are known risk factors for sexual assault, and women who experience sexual assault are at an increased risk of developing alcohol and cannabis use disorders. Although prevention efforts targeting potential perpetrators and bystanders is critical, these programs have yet to demonstrate reductions in rates of sexual assault victimization or perpetration. As part of comprehensive sexual assault programming, feminist scholars have called for the use of risk reduction programs to empower women by increasing a woman's ability to recognize and resist sexual assault by providing skills to avoid, interpret, and resist sexual assault. However, these programs have yet to directly target alcohol and cannabis use within an integrated framework. This innovative proposal includes training activities to ensure that Dr. Leone achieves the following four new career goals: 1) Develop expertise in reducing alcohol misuse, cannabis use, and sexual assault; 2) Receive training in the development and testing of integrated interventions for alcohol misuse, cannabis use, and sexual assault victimization; 3) Obtain advanced training in multilevel and longitudinal data analyses; and 4) Hone skills in grant-writing, responsible conduct of research, and professional development. The mentorship team includes expert psychologists, physicians, and public health scientists in the following areas: development of web-based interventions for alcohol and sexual assault (Gilmore), treatments for alcohol and cannabis use (Gray), social norm interventions for alcohol and cannabis prevention (Neighbors), sexual assault risk reduction programs (Senn), qualitative methods for intervention development (Salazar), design and analysis of clinical trials (Hayat), and program implementation (Self-Brown). Dr. Leone will apply the skills acquired during the training activities to a research project focused on the development of an integrated program for heavy episodic drinking, cannabis use, and sexual assault risk reduction. The research project includes mixed-methods research to develop program content, assess the usability and acceptability with college women who engaging in heavy episodic drinking and cannabis use, and conduct a feasibility randomized controlled trial. This project will establish feasibility of conducting a larger randomized clinical trial testing the efficacy of the integrated program. The proposed training and research activities will prepare Dr. Leone for an independent research career focused on the development and evaluation innovative integrated programs for heavy episodic drinking, cannabis use, and sexual assault. This project is directly in line with several NIH priorities and will inform a R-level grant to conduct a randomized clinical trial.
Sexual assault is a significant public health concern impacting 1 in 5 college women. Alcohol and cannabis are known risk factors for sexual assault victimization, and women who experience nonconsensual sex are at a greater risk of developing alcohol and cannabis use disorders. This project involves the development of a risk reduction program for high risk college women that will integrate evidence- and theory-based alcohol and cannabis prevention content into an evidence-based sexual assault risk reduction program.