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Robert C. Sterling, PhD

Contact Dr. Sterling

1021 S. 21st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

(215) 790-9942
(215) 790-9947 fax

Medical School

PhD in Applied Research & Evaluation in Psychology, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York - 1988

University Appointment

Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Human Behavior

Hospital Appointment

Associate Director, Division of Substance Abuse Programs

Research and Clinical Interests

Prior areas of scientific inquiry have included an examination of the role of active cue exposure in the treatment of cocaine addiction. Using a cue exposure paradigm, cocaine dependent persons with a history of frequent relapse were presented with a graded series of cocaine relevant stimuli in a randomized controlled study design. The major goal of the project was to test the hypothesis that providing biofeedback during the cue exposure sessions would a) help individuals develop control/mastery over stimuli which, in the past, triggered renewed cocaine use, and b) promote feelings of abstinence efficacy (NIDA R29 DA09415 8/15/95 - 5/31/01).

We have also undertaken scientific study of the role of religiosity and spirituality in the recovery from alcohol and other substance use disorders. The primary aim of this work was to examine whether admission differences in levels of spirituality predisposed patients to favorable or unfavorable outcomes following admission for alcohol treatment at facilities where spirituality was or was not a prominently featured aspect of treatment. The major goal of this project was a test of the hypothesis that persons whose level of spirituality was congruent with the spiritual orientation of the facility, and who as such were considered optimally placed (i.e., "matched") for treatment, evinced more positive outcomes (NIAAA R21 AA1306 7/1/02 - 3/31/06).

Most recently, we have begun to examine the empirical assessment of recovery capital as well as the behavioral health needs of the elderly.

General areas of interest include general program evaluation/outcomes research, learned helplessness and its clinical sequelae, substance abuse recovery and continued study of methods by which patient placement procedures can be manipulated to promote optimal treatment outcomes.