Primary Research Focus
The Deutsch Lab examines how complex systems foster positive or negative outcomes related to the development of alcohol use and sexual health over age. The lab works to better understand specific contexts contributing to personal and population-level differences, to benefit strategies for implementation of health-improving interventions.
How do alcohol use or sexual behavior change over the lifespan? What are the contexts that define these behaviors at certain points in time? How do we reduce negative outcomes within these behaviors individually, and outcomes relating to when they intersect? The Deutsch Lab utilizes a “genes to geography” approach to improve our understanding of how risk behaviors and their contexts mutually develop over adolescence and young adulthood, how this leads to outcomes and outcome disparities, and how this can enhance efforts to improve wellbeing. These goals are achieved by using a transdisplinary approach, that integrates methods from psychology, human development, behavior genetics, systems science, and community public health. Currently, we are exploring underlying mechanisms to explain negative outcome disparities within rural and American Indian/Alaska Native youth.
Syndemic System Dynamics of Alcohol Exposed Pregnancies
A newer line of research examines the reciprocal roles of intimate partner violence, alcohol misuse and risky sexual behavior on alcohol exposed pregnancies in rural and American Indian/Alaska Native populations. Using community based and system dynamic approaches, the goals of this line of research are to work collaboratively within communities to assess how these systems are sustained, and what avenues of intervention will maximize systemic change to reduce alcohol exposed pregnancy. In particular, this research focuses on framing this system within the unique cultural and social experiences of rural American Indian populations, to better understand needs and enhance wellbeing within personal, interpersonal, and community contexts.
Developmental Behavior Genetics of Alcohol Use
A longstanding line of research involves twin data to assess how influences of alcohol use age (adolescence to young adulthood) and stage (initiation to alcohol use disorder). Previous studies have examined the potentially causal role of earlier onset of earlier alcohol use stages (such as first drink or first time getting drunk) on later stages (such as age of first alcohol use problems or alcohol use disorder diagnosis). Other studies have examined how adolescent alcohol use has special hereditary and environmental influence distinct from later alcohol use in early adulthood, and that peer drinking, but not maternal support or autonomy granting, related to both genetic and environmental variances that explained alcohol use over this time period. Further research has examined the moderating role that socioeconomic status or rural versus urban context may have on alcohol use and its relation to alcohol outlet density.