Shireen Rizvi Receives Grant From Rutgers Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness

Jul, 2020

Dr. Shireen Rizvi, GSAPP Associate Professor, has received a grant from the Rutgers Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. With Evan Kleiman, Ph.D. (SAS Psychology), Annmarie Wachas-Montes, PsyD (Counseling, Alcohol and other Drug Assistance and Psychological Services, CAPS), and Jesse Finkelstein (GSAPP doctoral student), she will be developing and testing a Brief Scaleable Intervention for COVID-19 Mental Health Sequelae in College Students. Congratulations, Dr. Rizvi!


College students are at high risk for mental health problems (e.g., anxiety, depression, substance use, suicidal thoughts/behaviors). The COVID-19 pandemic places them in a more dire situation. College counseling centers, already stretched with long waiting lists, are unlikely to meet the new demand. Resources must be devoted to alternatives to standard, resource-intensive mental health services. The major aim of this pilot study is to evaluate a 2-week coping skills intervention for college students, based on evidence-based treatment and delivered remotely via short videos.

Participants will be 150 Rutgers undergraduates who were displaced during the Spring 2020 semester and are returning for instruction in Fall 2020. Beginning in the weeks before the semester begins, participants in the experimental group (n=100) will receive 4 daily smartphone surveys assessing stress, affect, and other related factors for two weeks before, during, and after the 2-week coping skills intervention. Participants in the control group (n=50) will receive assessments over the same time period. Both groups will be assessed weekly throughout the Fall semester to monitor the transition to the new semester and the longer-term impact of the intervention.

We hypothesize that: (1) Participants in the experimental group will demonstrate significantly better outcomes than the control group during the comparison periods after the intervention and during the semester, (2) Among those in the experimental group, there will be significant pre- to post-intervention changes in emotion regulation, usage of coping skills, and daily ratings of stress. We will also explore the moderators of these effects (e.g., socio-economic status). Key deliverables include 14 videos teaching easy-to-use evidence-based skills for regulating difficult emotions and managing distress and data testing their efficacy. These data will be meaningful in their own right and will be used to support an NIH application to scale the intervention and disseminate to colleges nationwide and other at-risk groups.

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