Program of Research in Implementation Science, Minority Stress, and Mental Health (PRISMM)

PRISMM Mission

To improve quality of mental health treatment for diverse and underserved populations. To do this, we focus on: (1) conceptual research to understand the intersection between discrimination and trauma; (2) stakeholder-engaged tailoring of existing evidence-based treatments; (3) addressing system-, provider-, and patient-level barriers to implementing evidence-based treatments; and (4) conducting effectiveness studies on the application of evidence-based treatments in real-world settings.

To learn more about all of the PRISMM research projects, please visit our page:

Director, Principal Investigator:

Sarah Valentine, PhD | Director, Principal Investigator | she/her/hers

Dr. Sarah Valentine is a licensed psychologist with a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Suffolk University (2014). Dr. Valentine completed her predoctoral internship in Behavioral Medicine and postdoctoral research fellows in Implementation Science in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School (2013-2016). Dr. Valentines came to BMC’s Department of Psychiatry in 2016 to establish a clinical research program aimed at improving the quality of mental health care for diverse and underserved populations. Dr. Valentine has extensive experience in the tailoring and implementation of evidence-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder with minority populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and refugees, and sexual orientation and gender minority populations.

Current Research Projects:

I-STEP at Boston Medical Center 

STAIR therapy logo: staircase and sunshine motif in rainbow colors


Implementing a Skills Training Evidence-Based Treatment for PTSD

2018-2023 (PI: Valentine)

A shortage of trained mental health specialists has led to concerning inequities in access to and quality of care in safety net settings. Thus, leaders in the field have advocated for stepped care approaches that begin with brief, patient-centered interventions before progressing to intensive treatments. This study aims to develop a stepped care approach to PTSD treatment by using implementation science strategies to refine and implement a “Step 1” low-intensity evidence-based treatment for PTSD in primary care.

The randomized controlled trial will test the effectiveness of two formats of adapted Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) for PTSD (STAIR v. webSTAIR). In the study, STAIR will be available via in-person, telehealth, and web-based formats.

Read more about the STAIR intervention here.

Grant Title: An Implementation Science Approach to Optimizing Evidence-Based Treatments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for Non-Specialty Settings 

Funded by: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH: K23HM117221)

Transgender amd Gender Diverse (TGD) Trauma & Resilience 

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Transgender and Gender Diverse (TGD) Trauma & Resilience

The Influence of Gender Identity-Related Discrimination on Adaptation Following Exposure to Potentially Traumatic Events among Transgender and Gender Diverse (TGD) Persons

2018-2019 (PI: Valentine)

This study aims to examine psychological adaptation processes following exposure to transgender-related discrimination and potentially traumatic events among TGD persons. The mixed-methods study design includes structured clinical interview data based on the administration of the CAPS-5 for PTSD, self-report questionnaires related to minority stress factors (discrimination, violence), and qualitative data from individual interviews. Findings will support the development of assessment and conceptualization guidelines, and future treatment development.

Enrollment is closed for this study.

Funded by: The Gennaro Acampora Junior Investigator Pilot Award

Managing Antepartum PTSD (MAP) Study 

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Managing Antepartum PTSD (MAP) Study

A Pragmatic Effectiveness Trial of a Brief Exposure Therapy for PTSD on Substance Use and Mental Health Morbidity and Mortality during the Prenatal Period

2019-2021 (PIs: Valentine & Nillni)

Description: This study aims to implement a 5-session evidence-based PTSD treatment (Written Exposure Therapy) during pregnancy to improve morbidity and mortality for women enrolled in Project RESPECT—a high risk obstetrical and addiction recovery program at Boston Medical Center. This study will provide data on the preliminary effectiveness of the intervention, as well as implementation outcomes relevant to the sustainability of this intervention in usual care.

Funded by: Grayken Center for Addiction Pilot Award

BU CTSI: Peer-to-Peer Coping Skills for Trauma

STAIR therapy logo: staircase and sunshine motif in rainbow colors

BU CTSI: Peer-to-Peer Coping Skills for Trauma 

Feasibility of Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) for PTSD, adapted for peer delivery

2017-2018 (PI: Valentine)

An implementation-effectiveness pilot study aimed: (1) to adapt Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) for PTSD for peer delivery, (2) to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a peer-delivered intervention, and initial patient outcomes, and (3) to use process evaluation to generate recommendations for tailoring evidence-based treatments for peer delivery and supporting fidelity (i.e., consultation with feedback).

Enrollment is closed for this study.

Funded by: Boston University Clinical and Translational Science Institute (BU-CTSI) Integrated Pilot Grant Program (NIH: 1UL1TR001430)