Sarah Grace Uhouse, MS
Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology
Sarah Grace is a 5th year clinical psychology PhD student at Rutgers University. She has worked in the Cardiac Neuroscience Laboratory since 2016. Prior to that, she worked as a post-baccalaureate research assistant at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, after graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2014.
I am currently working on my doctoral dissertation. My project is examining the construct of “flexibility,” defined as the ability to adapt to changing demands, across physiological, cognitive, and neural domains. My specific question is whether a latent “flexibility” construct mediates the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity and utilization of a paced breathing mobile-based application in women with substance use disorders (SUDs). The breathing intervention is based on heart rate variability biofeedback (HRVB), a treatment shown to increase physiological, cognitive, and behavioral flexibility. I hypothesize that higher PTSD symptoms predict lower flexibility, and this reduced flexibility will be a barrier to the use of the in-the-moment HRVB app. Potential clinical significance includes identification of personalized factors that could influence feasibility of an easily-disseminated HRVB mobile-based intervention. Given that individuals with co-occurring PTSD/SUD symptoms are more difficult to treat and have poorer prognoses than single-diagnosis populations, enhancing treatment utilization could significantly impact the disease prevalence and burden for these patients.