Shirley Yen, PHD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior (Research)
Psychiatry & Human Behavior
Work: +1 401-444-1915
Shirley Yen's research focuses on identifying predictors of suicidal behavior in adolescents and on developing interventions to prevent such behaviors. She is particularly interested in examining the role of cross-cutting dimensions such as positive and negative affectivity and disinhibition on these behaviors. She is also interested in whether borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be reliably diagnosed in adolescents.
BiographyShirley Yen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago (BA) and received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Duke University (PhD). Dr. Yen's research focuses on identifying risk factors and developing interventions for suicidal behaviors in adolescents and adults. While most of her prior research has been with adults with borderline personality disorder, Dr. Yen has recently expanded her interests to work with adolescents. Currently she is a principal investigator of an adjunctive transdiagnostic intervention for suicidal adolescents who have been admitted to the inpatient psychiatric unit due to suicide risk. Dr. Yen is also an investigator in the multi-site Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth study. Past NIMH-funded studies in which Dr. Yen has been an investigator include the Collaborative Longitudinal Study of Personality Disorders, a landmark study of adult PD, and a naturalistic follow-up study of suicidal adolescents.
Research DescriptionShirley Yen is currently supported by a Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K-23) application to further her development as an independent research scientist with a programmatic line of research that examines the phenomenology of suicidal behaviors. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) represents a significant risk factor for repeat suicide attempts and suicide deaths, yet there has been no prospective study of BPD among adolescent suicide attempters. Her research seeks to examine the associations between affective traits consistent with BPD, family functioning, and adolescent suicidality.
Shirley Yen's study examinse a model, heavily influenced by Linehan's biosocial theory of BPD and by prominent developmental theories, in which the combination of individual dispositional factors (affective processing consistent with BPD) and environmental factors (invalidating family environment) is hypothesized to predict adolescent suicidal behavior (ideation and attempts). A naturalistic, descriptive, six-month follow-up study of 120 adolescents who had been hospitalized for suicidal behavior was be implemented to examine this model. Weekly or monthly ratings on key predictor and outcome variables was obtained over the six-month interval to allow for time-varying analyses. This study addresses a significant gap in knowledge, as it would be the first prospective study to examine BPD traits as well as the first study to examine key predictor variables dynamically, in suicidal adolescents.
Dr. Yen is also the co-principal investigator of a treatment development grant for suicidal adolescents. The intervention, "Coping Long Term with Attempted Suicide Program for Adolescents" modeled on Dr. Ivan Miller's (co-PI) program for adults, is an adjunctive intervention that begins when adolescents are admitted to the inpatient hospital unit and continues for six months post-discharge, thus covering a period of high risk for subsequent attempts. The treatment is based on cognitive behavioral therapy principles and combines in-person sessions with phone check-ins, and has an individual as well as family component. This study is funded by the NIMH and is in progress.
Dr. Yen is also an investigator of the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth (COBY) study. COBY is a multi-site naturalistic prospective study of children and adolescents with bipolar illness. Sites include Brown University (PI: M. Keller), University of Pittsburgh (PI: B. Birmaher), and UCLA (PI: M. Strober). COBY is currently in its 10th year of data collection and has generated numerous significant findings pertaining to the course and outcome of Bipolar I, II, and NOS that have been published in top tier journals. In the next phase of COBY we will be examining biomarkers to assess metabolic functioning as well as comorbidity with borderline personality disorder.
Grants and AwardsPhi Beta Kappa, University of Chicago, 1990
Graduate Fellowship, Duke University, 1992-1997
Predissertation Fellowship, International Social Science Research Council, 1996-1997
Graduate Student Fellow, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, People's Republic of China, 1996-1997.
Young Investigator's Award, Association for Clinical Psychosocial Research, 2001
AffiliationsAmerican Psychological Association (APA)
International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders
Board Member, Association for Research on Personality Disorders
Funded ResearchCurrent PI:
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); Dispositional Affect, Family Environment and Adolescent Suicidality; $794,899 direct; 5/05.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); Coping Long Term with Attempted Suicide Program - Adolescents; $450,000 direct; 2/11.
National Institute of Mental Health, Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth, $2,585,777, 2001.
SAMSHA, Incorporate Suicide Prevention Knowledge and Skills Into Rhode Island's MPH and Medical School Curricula, 9/29/2010.
Social Science Research Council; A cross-cultural comparison of depressive symptom manifestation; approx $25,000; 6/95.
Executive Committee on Research, Brown University; Emotional experiencing in women with borderline personality disorder; $15,000; 1999.
NIMH: Collaborative Longitudinal Study of Personality Disorders; $944,564 direct; 5/05.
NIMH: Emotional Processing in Borderline Personality Disorder; $154,593 direct Brown; 6/04
- Yen, S. Shea, M.T., Walsh, Z., et al. (in press). Self-harm subscale of the Schedule of Nonadaptive and Adaptive Personality (SNAP): Predicting suicide attempts over 8 years of follow-up. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. (IN PRESS)
- Skodol, A.E., Shea, M.T., Yen, S., White, C.N., Gunderson, J.G. (2010). Personality disorders and mood disorders: Perspectives on diagnosis and classification from studies of longitudinal course and familial association. Journal of Personality Disorder, 24(1), 83-108. (2010)
- Yen, S., Johnson, J., Costello, E., Simpson, E.B. (2009). A 5-Day Dialectical Behavior Therapy Partial Hospital Program for Women with Borderline Personality Disorder: Predictors of Outcome from a 3-Month Follow-up Study. Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 15, 173-182. (2009)
- Yen, S., Shea, M.T., Sanislow, C.A., et al. (2009). Personality Traits as Prospective Predictors of Suicide Attempts. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, (2009)
- Yen, S., Pagano, M.E., Shea, M.T., et al. (2005) Recent life events preceding suicide attempts in a personality disorder sample: Findings from the Collaborative Longitudinal Personality Disorders Study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 99-105. (2005)
- Yen, S., Shea, M.T., Sanislow, C.A., et al. (2004) Borderline personality disorder criteria associated with prospectively observed suicidal behavior. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 1296-1298. (2004)
- Simpson, E., Yen, S., Costello, E., et al. (2004). Combined Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Fluoxetine pharmacotherapy in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder: Is there an additive effect? Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 65, 379-385. (2004)
- Shea, M.T., Stout, R.L., Yen, S., et al. (2004) Associations in the course of personality disorders and Axis I disorders over time. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 113, 499-508. (2004)
- Shea, M.T., & Yen, S. (2003). Stability as a distinction between Axis I and II disorders. Journal of Personality Disorders, 17, 373-386. (2003)
- Rettew, D.C., Zanarini, M.C., Yen, S., et al. (2003). Childhood antecedents of avoidant personality disorder: A retrospective study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 42, 1122-1130. (2003)
- Zlotnick, C., Johnson, D., Yen, S., et al. (2003). Clinical features and impairment in women with borderline personality disorder (BPD) with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), BPD without PTSD, and other personality disorders with PTSD. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 191, 706-713. (2003)
- Yen, S., Shea, M.T., Pagano, M., et al. (2003). Axis I/II disorders as predictors of prospective suicide attempts: Findings from the Collaborative Longitudinal Study of Personality Disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112, 375-381. (2003)
- Johnson, D.M., Shea, M.T., Yen, S., et al. (2003). Gender differences in borderline personality disorder: Findings from the Collaborative Longitudinal Personality Disorders Study. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 44, 284-292. (2003)
- Yen, S., & Siegler, I.C. (2003). Self-blame, social introversion, and male suicides: Prospective data from a longitudinal study. Archives of Suicide Research, 7, 17-27. (2003)
- Phillips, K.A., Yen, S., & Gunderson, J.G. (2002). Personality disorders. In: Hales R.E.,Yudofsky S.C., eds. The American Psychiatric Press Textbook of Psychiatry, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press Inc, pp. 803-832. (2002)
- Yen, S., Zlotnick, C., & Costello, E. (2002). Affect regulation in women with borderline personality disorder traits. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 190, 693-696. (2002)
- Yen, S., Shea, M.T., Battle, C., et al. (2002). Traumatic exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder in borderline, schizotypal, avoidant and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders: Findings from the Collaborative Longitudinal Personality Disorders Study. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 190, 510-518. (2002)
- Yen, S., & Shea, M.T. (2001). Recent developments in research of trauma and personality disorders. Current Psychiatry Reports, 3, 52-58. (2001)
- Yen, S., Robins, C.J., & Lin, N. (2000). A cross-cultural comparison of depressive symptom manifestation: China and the United States. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 993-999. (2000)
- Yen, S., McDevitt-Murphy, M.E., Shea, M. (2005). Depression and personality. In: Stein, D.J. Kupfer, D.J., Schatzberg, A.F. eds. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Mood Disorders. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing Inc. ()
- Shea, M.T., & Yen, S. (2005). Models of relationship between personality dimensions, disorders and depression. In: Kennedy, S., Rosenbluth, M., Bagby, M.R., eds. Personality Disorders and Depression. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing Inc. ()