This K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award will facilitate my long-term career goal of conducting patient-oriented research on the behavioral and affective consequences of alcohol use and alcohol use disorders, namely the impact of acute use of alcohol (AUA) on suicidal ideation, attempts, and deaths. AUA is associated with markedly increased odds of a suicide attempt; however, the conditions under which AUA confers suicide risk are not well understood. In line with NIAAA?s strategic objective of identifying mechanisms underlying alcohol use disorder and co-occurring mental health conditions, this project will test the conditions under which AUA may increase suicide risk and elucidate targets for alcohol-related suicide prevention. I am a clinical psychologist with a strong background in research on the affective and behavioral consequences of alcohol use, including suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The proposed research and career development plan build directly on my prior experiences to provide greater knowledge and skills necessary to conduct innovative investigations of the mechanisms and conditions underlying the co-morbidity of alcohol use disorders with suicide. Guided by the attention allocation model, the proposed pilot study will explore the combined effects of AUA, mood, and alcohol expectancies on attentional bias towards suicide-related cues.
Specific Aim 1 will test the feasibility of our experimental procedures.
Specific Aim 2 will explore the combined impact of AUA and negative mood on attentional bias towards suicide in a sample of community adults.
Specific Aim 3 will explore whether individual differences in alcohol expectancies influence these associations. I will conduct a 2 by 2 (alcohol/placebo by negative mood/positive mood), between-subjects experiment involving alcohol administration, a well-established mood induction paradigm, and a performance-based dependent measure of attention towards suicide-related cues. This award will enhance my career development to conduct this and future related studies through developing 1) expertise in the design and conduct of experiments that test the effects of AUA, alcohol expectancies, and mood states on suicide-related outcomes, 2) proficiency in the design and conduct of alcohol administration studies, 3) knowledge and experience in the use of performance-based measures of suicide risk, and 4) skills in mentorship, lab management, publication-writing, and grant-writing. My mentorship team is well-suited to facilitate the research and career development plans, with combined expertise in the behavioral and affective consequences of alcohol use, alcohol administration, and performance-based measures of suicide-related constructs.

Public Health Relevance

Acute use of alcohol is associated with an increased likelihood of suicidal ideation, attempts, and deaths; however, the mechanisms and conditions underlying these risks are not well understood. This project will inform whether mood and alcohol expectancies impact the effect of acute use of alcohol on suicide risk. This project will inform whether targeting acute use of alcohol, negative mood, and alcohol expectancies through primary prevention and intervention efforts could reduce alcohol-related suicide deaths.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Neuroscience Review Subcommittee (AA)
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Freeman, Robert
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Schools of Medicine
United States
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