Our team is currently conducting research focused on several health outcomes, described below. Links to the full text of several of our recent publications are provided. Please contact Steve Brunwasser to request additional full-text articles or see his National Library of Medicine Bibliography.

Perinatal Mental Health

Stress and psychopathology are highly common during pregnancy and the first year postpartum. In addition to the negative impact on maternal health and well-being, children exposed to perinatal adversity are at increased risk for a number of health complications. Our group is working on projects to improve (1) identification of high-risk pregnancies in healthcare settings, (2) understanding of how maternal adversity affects the development of the developing child, and (3) integration of mental health services into prenatal care settings.

Select Publications

  • Sutherland, S., & Brunwasser, S. M. (2018). Sex differences in vulnerability to prenatal stress: a review of the recent literature. Current psychiatry reports, 20(11), 102. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329286/
  • Brunwasser, S. M., Slavich, G. M., Newcomb, D. C., Gebretsadik, T., Turi, K. N., Stone Jr, C., … & Hartert, T. V. (2019). Sex-specific association between prenatal life stress exposure and infant pro-inflammatory cytokine levels during acute respiratory infection. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 76, 275-279. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380181/

Youth Depression

The prevalence of depression increases greatly during the adolescent years (Merikangas et al., 2010). Our lab conducts research testing etiological models of youth depression. We are currently testing models of how depression develops among students making the transition to higher education. Additionally, we evaluate the effectiveness of youth preventive interventions. Much of our work focuses on identifying who benefits most – and least – from youth prevention programs (i.e., effect modifiers) and testing whether there is evidence for the hypothesized mechanisms of action (i.e., effect mediators). Additionally, we are conducting longitudinal studies evaluating the course and predictors depressive symptoms and depression-related impairment during the transition to college to inform preventive interventions.

Select Publications

  • Brunwasser, S. M., Gillham, J. E., & Kim, E. S. (2009). A meta-analytic review of the Penn Resiliency Program’s effect on depressive symptoms. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 77(6), 1042. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4667774/
  • Brunwasser, S. M., & Garber, J. (2016). Programs for the prevention of youth depression: Evaluation of efficacy, effectiveness, and readiness for dissemination. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 45(6), 763-783. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5176361/
  • Brunwasser, S. M., Freres, D. R., & Gillham, J. E. (2018). Youth cognitive-behavioral depression prevention: Testing theory in a randomized controlled trial. Cognitive therapy and research, 42(4), 468-482. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6059657/
  • Brent, D. A., Brunwasser, S. M., Hollon, S. D., Weersing, V. R., Clarke, G. N., Dickerson, J. F., … & Iyengar, S. (2015). Effect of a cognitive-behavioral prevention program on depression 6 years after implementation among at-risk adolescents: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA psychiatry, 72(11), 1110-1118.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635056/

Pediatric Asthma

Pediatric asthma and allergic diseases are common and highly burdensome. In collaboration with the Asthma Research Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Director: Tina Hartert, MD, MPH), we conduct research aimed at identifying modifiable etiological processes contributing to these adverse health outcomes. We recently completed a systematic review and meta-analysis commissioned by the World Health Organization evaluating the strength of evidence for a causal effect of infant lower respiratory tract infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus on subsequent wheezing illness. The manuscript describing this study was published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine (link to full-text article below). A step-by-step summary of our analytic approach is available here.

Select Publications

Depression in Autistic Adults

Our group collaborates with Dr. Katherine Gotham’s https://www.seahlrowan.com/ at Rowan University conducting research evaluating the role of repetitive thinking and explanatory style in the development of depression in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Select Publications

  • Gotham, K., Brunwasser, S. M., & Lord, C. (2015). Depressive and anxiety symptom trajectories from school age through young adulthood in samples with autism spectrum disorder and developmental delay. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(5), 369-376. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4407021/
  • Gotham, K., Bishop, S. L., Brunwasser, S., & Lord, C. (2014). Rumination and perceived impairment associated with depressive symptoms in a verbal adolescent–adult ASD sample. Autism Research, 7(3), 381-391. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4429601/