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Erin E. Bonar, PhD

Assistant Professor

Erin E. Bonar, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Addiction Center at the University of Michigan Medical School. She is a licensed clinical psychologist by training. Her research focuses on understanding and reducing substance use and concomitant risk behaviors (e.g., sexual/HIV, impaired driving, overdose), and related negative consequences (sexual assault, injury) among underserved populations. She works to develop interventions that capitalize on technologies for prevention and treatment to increase scalability and public health impact.


Early in her career she received a career development award from NIDA to study the relationships between sexual risk behaviors and drug use among emerging adults in Flint, Michigan and to develop an intervention to address these co-occurring risks. She is an expert in Motivational Interviewing and leads efforts across numerous studies focused on Motivational Interviewing interventions to reduce risk behaviors and increase health and wellbeing. These include studies with adolescent and young adult men who have sex with men. She is currently the PI of 4 NIH-funded grants to develop and test interventions for cannabis, alcohol, and opioid use with Motivational Interviewing and technology-based delivery (e.g., social media, remote therapy) serving communities across Michigan and nationally. 


As the Content Lead for Sexual Violence at the University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center, she has served as PI for projects evaluating sexual violence outcomes among young adults. She has led efforts pertaining to campus sexual assault by publishing an evaluation of UM’s programming and leading a paper addressing current challenges and future directions for the field.

The overarching goal of her program of research is to reduce coronary heart disease in women. To this end, she has extensively studied disparities in nurses’ cardiac triage decisions for women who present with symptoms of myocardial infarction and perceptions of bias among women treated for acute coronary syndromes. She was amongst the first to show female patients presenting with possible cardiac symptoms face disparate nurses’ triage decisions, placing them at risk for life-threatening delays in acute cardiac treatment. She has also examined self-care decisions and heart healthy behaviors of demographically and geographically diverse women using qualitative and quantitative methods. More recently, she extended this work to include the examination of cognitive dysfunction and self-care decisions among adults with heart failure. Her nurse-led, multidisciplinary intervention includes cognitive computerized testing. She has also recently examined sexual orientation and tobacco use disparities and sexual orientation and hypertension risk reduction behaviors.

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