Psychology students present research to community organizations

April 29, 2022
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On Wednesday, April 27, two IUPUC Psychology Capstone students, Kelsie Bullard (Shelbyville, IN) and Anna Weedling (New Whiteland, IN), presented their research at a “Lunch & Learn” at IUPUC. Bullard and Weedling, and their faculty mentor, Elizabeth daSilva, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, collaborated with local organizations to understand risk factors and treatment outcomes for individuals in recovery for substance use disorders (SUDs). Forty-five individuals in south-central Indiana participated in the study, which consisted of survey questions about demographics and treatment history, personality and family background, and perceptions of social support during the treatment process. Preliminary analyses revealed that having caregiver personality traits were associated with higher levels of substance use and that greater family involvement was linked to shorter treatment lengths, though larger sample sizes are needed to confirm these results.

More than 20 people attended the Lunch & Learn, including IUPUC faculty from Psychology and Mental Health Counseling and representatives from local organizations who work in the recovery community and helped identify participants for the research: Foundation for Youth, Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress, Cardinal Recovery, and Columbus Regional Health’s Treatment and Support Center.

“Talking with community partners gave us a lot of new ideas for further research and what we, as students, can do to help the community more,” said Bullard. “Moving forward, I hope other students take advantage of the opportunity to give back to the community while they do their class work. It’s been a great experience.” Bullard, who is graduating this spring, plans to attend the IU School of Health and Human Sciences in the fall to work on a doctorate in occupational therapy.

According to daSilva, future work will consider how these effects vary as a function of relationship type, as participants differed in whether they received support from parents, siblings, partners, and peer groups. Professor daSilva shares that “this project represents an excellent example of community-engaged applied research. We are grateful to our community partners for helping us identify participants and share this important work. We hope this is just the beginning of continued collaborations between IUPUC and local organizations working in the recovery and mental health communities.”

The research project and luncheon were generously supported by a grant from the IUPUC Office of Research (OSR). Bullard and Weedling’s project was one of 10 OSR awardees during the 2021-2022 academic year and was previously presented at the OSR Research Exhibition on April 12.

For more information about the research, contact Liz daSilva at