The objective of this application is to develop the applicant into a mixed methods researcher specializing in substance-abusing women and their health and emotional well-being. To accomplish this objective, Dr. Brown will build upon her background as a medical anthropologist and accomplished qualitative researcher by undertaking training in quantitative methodologies and public health (via an MPH). Dr. Brown will also conduct research on the impact of women's methamphetamine (MA) use and histories of sexual violence on their sex-risk behaviors. Dr. Brown's research aims are: 1) to investigate qualitatively the ways in which women MA users relate their sexual experiences to their drug use and/or their life experiences, and 2) to analyze quantitatively the longitudinal relationships between sex-risk behaviors, substance abuse, and life experiences among women MA users. To achieve the first aim, Dr. Brown will conduct an in-depth qualitative study (including a three-year follow-up study) with approximately 30 MA-using women in residential treatment. To achieve the second aim, Dr. Brown will conduct a secondary analysis of Dr. Mary-Lynn Brecht's Methamphetamine Abuse: Natural History and Treatment Effects dataset, which includes natural history data on women's (N=201) sex-risk behaviors, substance abuse, and life experiences. Results from the two studies will guide the develop of an R01 proposal. Dr. Brown will be mentored by Drs. Richard Rawson, an expert on MA; Vivian Brown, an expert on substance-abusing women, and Yih-lng Hser, an expert statistician. The candidate will also receive extensive consultation from a prominent group of experts in substance abuse treatment and research, women's health, and research methodologies. The interaction of MA and sex has recently received national attention due to a new strain of HIV detected in a gay male MA user. MA may have unique influences on the immune system, viral replication, and sexual behaviors. Clearly, more research needs to be done on how this drug affects sexual behaviors, particularly among women who have been understudied in this regard. Considering that women who abuse substances such as MA typically have multiple factors (e.g., histories of violence and abuse) placing them at risk for poor sexual decision-making, a more in-depth understanding of how women MA users conceptualize their sexual behaviors and experiences could assist in developing interventions for this group of women.
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