Social Intervention Group | SIG

Columbia School of Social Work

What We Do
Who We Are


Since 1990, SIG has primarily focused on intervention and prevention research on HIV, drug abuse, IPV and trauma. SIG will continue to conduct rigorous research, employing novel intervention approaches to address these co-occurring problems, and using state of the-art research designs and analytic methods. The target population can be loosely defined as those who are most vulnerable. In the past, this has included low-income urban individuals, families and communities who are affected by the overlapping problems of substance abuse, intimate partner violence, HIV and trauma.

In the last decade, SIG has completed a range of intervention and services research studies, which were informed by earlier epidemiological studies that examined the relationships between drug use, intimate partner violence and HIV risk among women on methadone (e.g., Women’s Health Project, 1996-2000) and among men on methadone (e.g., Men’s Health Project, 1998-2002).

Current Projects

cnu logoConnect ‘n Unite (CNU)
Funded by: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Connect ‘n Unite is the first clinical study to test a couple-based HIV/STI intervention aimed to strengthen the wellbeing of drug-involved Black men in longer-term same-sex relationships. This research not only addresses the overrepresentation of African Americans among those living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., it targets Black MSM (men who have sex with men), who are also at risk for additional prominent HIV/STI factors. Men in longer-term relationships represent two-thirds of HIV transmissions among MSM, and stimulant use is well known to increase the risk for HIV/STI infections. Couples learn traditional skills-building activities as well as ways in which to deal with marginalized statues within their communities.

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wings logoWINGS (Women Initiating New Goals for Safety)
Funded by: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Project WINGS is the first clinical trial to develop and test a multimedia computerized intimate partner violence (IPV) screening, and referral service tool among drug-involved female offenders under community supervision. WINGS aims to develop and test the effectiveness of a self-paced computerized screening designed to increase identification of IPV victims and improve linkages to IPV-related services. IPV is a serious public health problem that disproportionately affects drug-involved female offenders in the criminal justice system. This research underscores the need to develop and disseminate cost-effective services that may be deployed in community supervision.

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undarga logoUndarga (Evaluating a Microfinance Program for High Risk Women in Mongolia)
Funded by: National Institute of Mental Health

This study is the first test of a microfinance intervention combined with HIV prevention aimed to reduce sexual risk behaviors among female sex workers (FSWs) in Mongolia. The US/Mongolian collaborative research team will develop and implement a microfinance intervention that will promote women’s HIV risk reduction and economic self-sufficiency. It will test a model that is sensitive to the unique needs of FSWs by providing substantial training for personal financial literacy and business management (which most microfinance institutions do not provide); teaching women about the risks of credit; and providing matched savings to build assets towards business development.

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worth logoWORTH (Women on the Road to Health)
Funded by: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Project WORTH addresses a critical gap in current HIV prevention efforts with drug-involved women under community supervision, who remain at very high risk for HIV. WORTH aims to build skills and social support for HIV risk reduction by reducing drug use, intimate partner violence (IPV), and enhancing overall wellbeing by cultivating better coping skills, negotiation techniques, and access to social support. This project will make a significant impact on improving services in criminal justice settings to address the co-occurring epidemics of HIV and intimate partner violence.

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silkroadSilk Road Health Project
Funded by: National Institute of Mental Health

Silk Road is the first study to examine the influence of multilevel factors, such as: ethnicity, migration patterns, and gender roles on HIV/STI risk behaviors among migrant male vendors in the largest marketplace in Almaty, Kazakhstan (the Barakholka market). The findings of Silk Road will have important implications for understanding the determinants of HIV risks and health challenges among migrant workers in Central Asia. It will also inform health policy and advocacy approaches to improve migrants’ access to health and HIV treatment and services.

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renaissanceProject Renaissance
Funded by: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Project Renaissance is an innovative study being conducted in Kazakhstan that integrates overdose and HIV prevention delivered to couples where one or both partners are injecting drug users (IDUs). This research aims to reduce the growing epidemic of fatal overdose among IDUs, and decrease the incidence of HIV/STI, Hepatitis C, and sexual and drug risk behaviors. Project Renaissance also intends to improve access to harm reduction programs and HIV care and treatment centers. Participating couples learn and practice skills to reduce their HIV risk behavior as well as learn communication and problem-solving techniques to use when facing difficult issues.

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Multimedia Connect (Using Multimedia Technologies to Disseminate HIV/STI Prevention for Heterosexual Couples)
connect logoFunded by: National Institute of Mental Health

This study compares a traditional manual package of Connect (a relationship-based HIV/STI intervention for high-risk heterosexual couples), versus a state-of-the-art multimedia internet-based version delivered to clients at community-based organizations across New York State. It is the first efficacy study examining the dissemination of a couple-based HIV prevention intervention.

SIG is collaborating with the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning to translate the sessions into an entirely internet-based version of the program called Multimedia Connect. This study grows out of a major strategic initiative at SIG to fulfill its mission by distributing the evidence-based interventions developed and tested back to the community-based agencies as well as the clients and families who need them most. If successful, the prototype of Multimedia Connect may be used in the prevention or treatment efforts of an array of mental health, health, and human services-related issues in the future.

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For more information on any of the above projects, contact:


Completed Projects>