PCLT Student Publications


Congratulations to our current student and alumnus for publications in prestigious journals.

November 2023:  Rubenstein collaborated with study co-authors Maggie Sweitzer, PhD and Joseph McClernon, PhD, tobacco policy researchers in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and members of the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center.  

Sweitzer pioneers research connecting nicotine use to factors like childhood trauma and chronic pain, while McClernon’s research delves into tobacco use and regulation of tobacco products in the U.S.  

Taking a closer look, the study showed people in serious pain are more inclined to exclusive use of tobacco rather than cannabis alone. Still, the significant risk among chronic pain sufferers for using both tobacco and cannabis, is striking, the authors said.  

Dual use may be due to the combination of tobacco’s and cannabis’s effects on pain. Animal studies have shown potential synergistic antinociceptive effects when both substances are used together. 

However, co-use may also come with potential drawbacks.  

It could amplify the risks, from increased dependence on both substances to a range of psychosocial and psychiatric concerns.  

Researchers looked at data from the 2018-19 Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study at a single point in time rather than tracking changes over time. As such, direct cause and effect can’t be conclusively determined.  

But it begs the question: does pain lead to increased substance use, or does the use of these substances exacerbate pain? 

Authors suspect that using both substances together could make the pain even worse, and the pain might, in turn, drive people to keep using them. 

“While the short-term relief from pain might motivate individuals to use or co-use these substances, we must also consider the long-term effects,” said Rubenstein who is pursuing a Master of Health science degree in clinical research and conceptualized the study and led the analysis.  

Besides the chance of more severe pain, co-use increases the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine and cannabis and presents additional health problems beyond the individual effects of each substance, she said. 

Additional authors include Jessica M. Powers of Syracuse University; Elizabeth R. Aston of the Brown University School of Health and Francis J. Keefe of the Duke Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.  


March 2021:  Sarah Freeman's commentary, "Winning the Hearts and Minds of Young Adults in the COVID-19 Pandemic" was published on March 1 in the Journal of Adolescent Health. https://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(20)30849-1/fulltext. Sarah is currently an MS3. PCLT alum Peter Callejo-Black along with Mina Silberberg recently published, “Eviction as a Disruptive Factor in Health Care Utilization: Impact on Hospital Readmissions and No-show Rates” in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. Congratulations to both!