Chad E. Shenk
Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
230 Health and Human Development Building
Pennsylvania State University
University Park PA 16802
My research examines the longitudinal pathways from child maltreatment to the onset of adverse health outcomes in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. This work uses both experimental and observational research to identify the mechanisms of various outcomes present in the child maltreatment population across multiple levels of analysis (e.g. psychological, biological, familial). A central translational goal of this research then is to develop novel prevention programs and optimize existing clinical interventions by targeting putative risk and protective mechanisms more directly and effectively. Thus, prevention, clinical trials and dissemination research are key future directions. Current projects where graduate and undergraduate students play an active role include:
The Life Events and Reactions Study (LEARS; Shenk, PI). LEARS is a genetic case control association study examining the genetic and epigenetic variations associated with the onset of psychiatric disorders in the child maltreatment population. Children between the ages of 8 and 15 years of age who have experienced substantiated child maltreatment are currently being recruited for this study. Graduate students collect genetic samples (oral fluid, buccal swab) and administer a structured psychiatric interview determining the presence and course of multiple disorders. Students are also actively involved in the entry, coding, and cleaning of data in preparation for eventual analysis. Results from this study will provide insight into the genetic and psychological contributions of these disorders in the child maltreatment population so that interventions targeting these processes can be developed or applied more effectively. This multi-site project is funded by a KL2 award from Penn State. The research team involves co-investigators from Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
The Female Growth and Development Study (FGDS; Shenk, Co-I). FGDS is a 30-year prospective cohort study of the effects of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) on subsequent female health outcomes. Research from this study has provided some of the most definitive results to date on the adverse developmental effects following CSA, including neuroendocrine disruption, premature cognitive aging, sexual risk behaviors, and pubertal timing. Recent funding (Co-PI’s: Noll & Trickett) will extend this study into middle adulthood where the effects of CSA on some of the leading health risks of this developmental period, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity, will be examined. FGDS will also examine the changes in suspected biobehavioral mechanisms across development that may increase the risk for these adverse outcomes in this population. Such efforts will inform multiple types of clinical intervention as well as identify the optimal point in development to deliver such interventions. Graduate students are actively involved in conducting home visits, administering research protocols evaluating developmental outcomes in both adults and children, as well as data entry and coding.
Selective Prevention of Psychiatric Disorders Subsequent to Child Maltreatment (Shenk, PI). Recent research on the etiology of psychiatric disorders suggests that child maltreatment affects a circumscribed set of centralized risk mechanisms, known as transdiagnostic mechanisms, responsible for the increased incidences of multiple psychiatric disorders in this population. This recently funded study is testing the feasibility of a newly developed selective prevention program that aims to alter transdiagnostic mechanisms in order to optimize treatment effects and reduce the incidences of multiple psychiatric disorders subsequent to child maltreatment. Graduate students and staff are developing treatment protocols, writing materials for IRB review, facilitating recruitment efforts, organizing the treatment evaluation materials, and developing databases.
2010--Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Child Maltreatment, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
2007--Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno
2007--Pre-Doctoral Clinical Internship, University of Rochester Medical Center
1998--B.A., Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University
2013- Present: Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University
2010-2013: Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology (Joint)
Shenk, C.E., Griffin, A.M., & O’Donnell, K.J. (in press). Symptoms of major depressive disorder subsequent to child maltreatment: Examining change across multiple levels of analysis to identify transdiagnostic risk pathways. Development and Psychopathology.
Shenk, C.E., Noll, J.G., Peugh, J.L., Griffin, A.M., & Bensman, H.E. (2015). Contamination in the prospective study of child maltreatment and female adolescent health. Journal of Pediatric Psychology: Special Issue on Trauma and Child Health. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsv017.
Shenk, C.E., Dorn, L.D., Kolko, D.J., Rausch, J.R., & Insana, S.P. (2014). Prior exposure to interpersonal violence and long-term treatment response for boys with a disruptive behavior disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 27, 585-592. doi: 10.1002/jts.21962.
Shenk, C.E. & Fruzzetti, A.E. (2014). Parental validating and invalidating responses and adolescent psychological functioning: An observational study. The Family Journal.22, 43-48. doi: 10.1177/1066480713490900.
Shenk, C.E., Putnam, F.W, Rausch, J.R., Peugh, J.L. & Noll, J.G. (2014). A longitudinal study of several potential mediators of the relationship between child maltreatment and PTSD symptoms. Development and Psychopathology.26, 81-91. doi:10.1017/S0954579413000916.
Noll, J.G. & Shenk, C.E. (2013). Teenage birthrates in sexually abused and neglected females. Pediatrics, 131, e1181-e1187. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-3072.
Shenk, C.E., Putnam, F.W. & Noll, J.G. (2013). Predicting the accuracy of facial affect recognition: The interaction of child maltreatment and intellectual functioning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, 229-242. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.08.007. PMCID: PMC3576026.
Shenk, C.E., Dorn, L.D., Kolko, D.J., Susman, E.J., Noll, J.G. & Bukstein, O.G. (2012). Predicting response to treatment for oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder using pre-treatment adrenal and gonadal hormones. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21, 973-981. doi: 10.1007/s10826-011-9557-x.
Dorn, L.D., Kolko, D.J., Shenk, C.E., Susman, E.J., & Bukstein, O.G. (2011). Influence of treatment for disruptive behavior disorders on adrenal and gonadal hormones in youth. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 40(4), 562-571. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2011.581614.
Shenk, C.E. & Fruzzetti, A.E. (2011). The impact of validating and invalidating responses on emotional reactivity. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 30(2), 163-183. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2011.30.2.163.
Chad Shenk vitae
- Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development
- Human Development
- Domains of Health and Behavior