Carolyn Tucker Halpern

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Ph.D., Professor, Maternal and Child Health

carolyn_halpern@unc.edu

CPC Office: 123 W Franklin Street, Room 2202
CPC Phone Number: (919) 962-6155

Dr. Halpern's Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Halpern's publications in PubMed

Dr. Halpern's CPC publications

A developmental psychologist and Deputy Director/co-investigator of the Waves IV and V Add Health program project, Halpern aims to improve understanding of healthy sexual development and the implications of adolescent experiences for developmental and demographic processes into adulthood. Halpern has nearly 30 years of research experience in the study of adolescent and young adult sexuality and risk-taking in both US and global settings, and more than 100 peer-reviewed publications on these topics.

In addition to collaborating on the Add Health program projects, Halpern is the PI (Herring and Suchindran are co-investigators) of a five-year NICHD-funded project using 4 waves of Add Health data to identify patterns of sexual initiation characterized by variation in behavior timing, sequence, pacing, and variety (among oral-genital, vaginal, and anal intercourse), and to determine ensuing sexual behavior trajectories from adolescence to adulthood. Halpern’s work often integrates observable and unobservable biological factors with psychosocial variables in longitudinal analysis. Her publications have examined predictors of initiation patterns, as well as their health consequences in adulthood (e.g., STIs, relationship quality). For example, Halpern and her research team have documented protective effects of initiating oral-genital sex first, and waiting at least a year before initiating vaginal sex, among adolescents. This pattern is associated with significantly lower odds of teen pregnancy. Halpern and collaborators have also capitalized on the sexual minority sample in Add Health, demonstrating that health disparities seen among sexual minorities during adolescence persist into adulthood, and are particularly pronounced among women. Halpern is also a co-investigator on several other projects, based in both the US and sub-Saharan Africa, that are investigating risk-behavior among youth and young adults; gender and gender-based violence are important components of these projects.

Halpern and collaborators will continue to extend the exploration of life course implications of sexual trajectories for adult health by examining whether risk experiences during the sensitive period of adolescence have implications for chronic disease emergence in adulthood. Halpern also hopes to further enrich the Wave V Add Health data base by leading an ancillary study to obtain additional interview data for sexual minorities (and a comparison sample) to capture more nuanced information about sexual identity development and wealth accumulation. Socioeconomic differences are a significant issue for sexual minority populations, and could help delineate the causal pathways underlying documented health disparities.

Primary Research Areas:

  • Demography

  • Reproductive Health

Current Research Projects:

Information updated on 6/29/2017

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