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  Program in Human Sexuality > Research


Sexuality and Aging
Compulsive Sexual Behavior and HIV Risk
Compulsive Sexual Behavior Research
Roots of Sexual Abuse
Somali Women's Initiative for Sexual Health
SOTIPS Implementation Evaluation Project

Sexuality and Aging

This pilot research project on sexuality, mindfulness, and the body in “individuals of a certain age.” The goal of this project is to gather baseline qualitative and quantitative data on sexual functioning, sexual satisfaction, mindfulness skills, interest in mindfulness, and general quality of life. Sara Mize, PhD, and Alex Iantaffi, PhD, are co-investigators on this project funded through the Sexuality and Aging Research fund at the University of Minnesota Foundation. 

To learn more or to register for the study visit http://z.umn.edu/agestudy

Compulsive Sexual Behavior and HIV Risk

Michael Miner, PhD, is the principal investigator on a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) to study sexual compulsivity. The aim of this grant it to gather the empirical data needed to clarify the characteristics of sexual compulsivity and how it leads to increased levels of HIV sexual risk behavior. This is the first investigation to explore underlying factors drawn from the various conceptualizations of sexual compulsivity and will advance the understanding of this theoretical construct. The findings of this study will further a nuanced approach to the development of interventions and allow for targeting the

Sexual compulsivity, or high levels of sexual behavior combined with a perceived lack of control, is strongly associated with unprotected sex and other HIV sexual risk behaviors. This association has been robust across populations, but particularly strong in men who have sex with men (MSM). This research project builds on previous research conducted at PHS which found that sexual compulsivity is associated with sero-discordant unprotected anal intercourse in HIV-positive MSM even after controlling for other known correlates (e.g., condom use self-efficacy, intentions to practice safer sex, etc.). However, while the association between sexual compulsivity and unsafe sex has considerable empirical support, the manner in which sexual compulsivity confers this increased risk, and therefore how to best influence such processes in order to reduce risk, is as yet, unknown.

Sexual compulsivity has been conceptualized as an addictive disorder, an impulsive disorder, and as a compulsive disorder. Others have questioned the existence of sexual compulsivity as a definable disorder and attribute the increased sexual behavior to high sex drive. Common across all conceptualizations are four factors: negative affect, sexual arousal, behavioral inhibition, and cognitive control. These factors influence HIV risk by interfering with the ability to manage one's sexual impulses, which would lead to multiple sexual encounters, and through impairments in the ability to consider multiple reinforcement contingencies and to consider the long-term consequences of pleasurable behavior which interferes with condom use. This study will provide needed empirical data to clarify the characteristics of sexual compulsivity and how it leads to increased levels of HIV sexual risk behavior.

A multi-method strategy will allow the research team to characterize sexual compulsivity and to provide needed empirical data to identify, and therefore help address, the underlying mechanisms that influence unsafe sexual behavior.

The research team includes project coordinator Cathy Strobel and co-investigators Angus MacDonald, III, PhD (U of M Department of Psychology), Rebecca Swinburne Romine, PhD, Nancy Raymond, MD, and Erick Janssen, PhD (Kinsey Institute).

To become a study participant, complete an online questionnaire to determine your eligibility z.umn.edu/csbhiv.

Compulsive Sexual Behavior Research

Eli Coleman, PhD, is the principal investigator for these research projects focused on better defining, diagnosing, and treating compulsive sexual behavior. Two of these studies are designed to examine the evidence for validity and reliability for the Compulsive Sexual Behavior Inventory (CSBI).

Compulsive Sexual Behavior Surveys

The goal of this research is to provide comparison groups for the groups on which we have already collected data. Previous groups have included men seen at our clinic for concerns related to compulsive sexual behavior and Hispanic men who have sex with men (MSM) involved in an online study of HIV risk. By collecting data from individuals outside of these groups, this research can help determine if online and offline data collection techniques are equivalent, and get a sense of what degree of compulsive sexual behavior is seen in the community at large.

Additional researchers on this project include Michael Miner, PhD, Nancy Raymond, MD, and Rebecca Swinburne Romine, PhD.

Compulsive Sexual Behavior Chart Review

The goal of this project is to collect information on Compulsive Sexual Behavior Inventory (CSBI) scores among men treated for compulsive sexual behavior at the Center for Sexual Health clinic. Researchers reviewed client charts and are beginning the data analysis process to establish clinical norms for comparison with the community samples we are collecting.

Additional researchers on this project include Michael Miner, PhD, Nancy Raymond, MD, and Rebecca Swinburne Romine, PhD.

Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM-IV

The aim of this project is to validate a structured clinical interview for the diagnosis of compulsive sexual behavior. This project involved administering the interview to individuals with and individual without compulsive sexual behavior. The researchers are currently analyzing the data they collected, with the goal of publication.

Additional researchers on this project include Nancy Raymond, MD, Michael Miner, PhD, and Rebecca Swinburne Romine, PhD.


Alex Iantaffi, PhD, is the principal investigator of a study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) on Deaf Men who have Sex with Men (DMSM), HIV testing, prevention, and technology titled "D-P@RK." This study aims to overcome health disparities to HIV testing for DMSM through the development of Internet-based screening and prevention tools. The long-term objective of this line of research is to improve HIV screening, prevention, treatment, and access for Deaf people, by developing innovative, culturally and linguistically accessible Internet-based methods and interventions.

There are four major milestones for the D-P@RK research project:

  1. Qualitatively identify HIV testing behaviors, barriers and facilitators to testing, and prevention needs of DMSM;
  2. Develop American Sign Language (ASL) measures to assess barriers to access and attitudes to HIV testing in DMSM;
  3. Create an online and visually based survey tool integrating ASL and English;
  4. Identify barriers and facilitators to HIV screening and assess the prevention needs of DMSM.

The project has begun recruiting DMSM and individuals who have experience working with DMSM around issues of sexual health and/or HIV prevention, testing, and treatment. If you are interested in participating visit the study website.

The research team includes co-investigators Simon Rosser, MPH, PhD (Epidemiology), and Susan Rose, PhD (Educational Psychology), and research coordinator Cynthia Benoit (Epidemiology). The research team is working with a community advisory board.  In June researchers were honored with the Deaf Pride Community Organization Award at the third annual Deaf LGBTQ and Allies Awards Ceremony and Awareness Day.  Grant number 1R21HD072788-01.

Roots of Sexual Abuse

Michael Miner, PhD, is the lead investigator of this CDC-funded study. The study will apply attachment theory to identify the unique and shared risk factors for adolescents perpetrating child sexual abuse, sexual assault, and other non-sexual internalizing problems. It is a multi-method, cross-sectional study of 300 adolescent males who have sexually abused children, sexually assaulted peers or adults, and committed non-contact sexual, or have mental health issues but no history of illegal sexual behavior.

Participants are recruited from agencies in both urban and rural Minnesota. Data is collected through available records, interviews, and a computer-administered questionnaire.

Data collection was completed in late 2010 and the team is analyzing data and preparing a number of manuscripts for publication. The team published an important article in the Journal of Sexual Aggression which describes the roles of anti-social behavior and psychopathy traits in perpetration of child sexual abuse and sexual aggression.

Additional researchers on the grant include Dianne Berg, PhD, Bean Robinson, PhD, Morgan Paldron, MA, Angie Lewis-Dmello, and Rebecca Swinburne Romine, MA

Somali Women's Initiative for Sexual Health: Somali Women, Sexuality, and HIV/STD Prevention


This study will be the first to examine HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of Somali women with the ultimate goal of meeting the critical need to reduce HIV and STD transmission among African-born Americans in Minnesota (and the U.S.) as African-born Americans have the highest HIV/AIDS rates of any ethnic group. Interviews will be conducted in either English or Somali by the project's bilingual Somali staff who will recruit participants through personal contacts as well as from Somali gathering places.

The project has been funded by the University’s Program in Health Disparities Research, the University’s IDEA Multicultural Research Award, and the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s UCare Fund. The information gathered from this study will be used to secure additional funding to further study the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to HIV/STD transmission and prevention within the Somali community. Ultimately the group will translate this knowledge to develop the first HIV counseling and testing intervention for Somali women.

The study researchers include Bean Robinson, PhD, principal investigator; Amira Ahmed, BA, founder and executive director at Midwest Community Development Inc.; Jennifer Connor, PhD, co-investigator; Shanda Hunt, BA, project coordinator; Fatah Ahmed, BA, interviewer and recruiter; and Meyran Omar, translator.

The project’s Community Advisory Board assists and advises the research team in study development, recruitment, and data analysis and interpretation. 

SOTIPS Implementation Evaluation Project

Michael Miner, PhD, is the principal investigator of this study funded by the National Institutes of Justice of the Department of Justice. The aim of the project is to conduct a rigorous analysis of the utility of a newly developed, dynamic risk factor assessment for sexual offenders, Sex Offender Treatment Intervention and Progress Scale (SOTIPS).

For over a decade, risk detection for sexual offenders has been the domain of static actuarial instruments. By adding dynamic factors to a risk assessment, specifically ones that have been linked to risk of reoffending and are amenable to treatment, has the potential to greatly improve our ability to assess risk, and changes in risk, over time. At the same time, it can improve treatment by systematically tracking progress, and identifying areas for intervention. This project could result in a major step forward in sex offender management, in that we may identify an empirically valid method for tracking changes in risk status. This will allow for a more nuanced strategy toward sex offender management, since intervention intensity could be modified as predicted offender risk changes over time.

Researchers at the PHS will begin working with sex offender treatment and management systems in New York City, NY, and Maricopa County, AZ, to collect data on 500 sexual offenders in treatment at each location, interview directors of treatment programs, and conduct focus groups with treatment providers and probation/parole agents. Follow-up data will assess sexual recidivism, non-sexual violent recidivism, any recidivism, returns to confinement, and violations of conditional release (parole or probation).

Researchers include Michael Miner, PhD; Bean Robinson, PhD, (co-investigator), Chris Hoefer (project coordinator), Cathy Strobel, Karl Hanson, PhD, (consultant Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), and David Thornton, PhD (consultant Mauston, Wisconsin).

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