JEREMY GOLDBACH joined the USC School of Social Work in 2012 after completing both his master's and doctoral degrees in social work at The University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation, “Toward the prevention of high risk behavior in sexual minority adolescents,” explored the relationship between minority stress and marijuana use by lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents. His work at UT-Austin was funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), specializing in prevention science.
Goldbach’s research interests involve cultural competence in prevention practice, with a focus on sexual and ethnic minority youth experiences. His past research has primarily examined the impact of chronic stress experiences on Latino adolescents, and the development of evidence-based prevention programs for these youth and their families. Currently, Goldbach is exploring the relationship between minority stress and behavioral health outcomes in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) youth. He also serves as project evaluator with the National Association of Social Workers HIV/AIDS Spectrum: Mental Health Training and Education of Social Workers Project.
His practice background includes both clinical and community organizing. Before returning for his doctoral education, Goldbach oversaw a large community organizing project in Texas that funded 32 community coalitions to reduce substance use concerns through environmental, policy-based strategy. His teaching interests include direct social work practice, human behavior and research with vulnerable populations.
It was a “eureka!” moment for assistant professor Jeremy Goldbach that led him to focus his research career on substance use prevention and intervention for Latino and LGBT adolescents. “It hit me all of a sudden that maybe we were spending so much time on the outcomes that we were completely overlooking the unique circumstances that led these kids to make poor health decisions,” he said.
Most adolescents deal with stress at some point during their youth, but how that stress is managed varies greatly not only between individuals, but also from one community to another. Risk behaviors and their resulting negative outcomes play a significant role in how adolescents act out in the face of stress. Goldbach’s research explores what goes into making the choice to engage in risk behaviors and what cultural stressors may influence that choice.
Stressful experiences that are unique to certain populations (i.e., minority groups) sometimes lead to negative outcomes. “Instead of focusing on just the individual outcome, we may be able to help youths to change how they interpret and manage stressors,” said Goldbach. “Then those negative outcomes will be subsequently affected.”
As a young researcher at USC, Goldbach plans to continue collaborating with his long-time mentor, Dr. Richard Cervantes, a clinical psychologist who has studied Latino-specific health and cultural concerns for more than 30 years. Goldbach and Cervantes have worked together to identify the unique stress experiences of Latinos, such as intergenerational conflict or losing a family member to deportation. The challenge they face now is determining whether interventions that address stress, rather than its manifestations, will reduce the likelihood of engaging in risky behavior for relief.
“How can we adapt the curriculum and interventions we use to other cultures and groups to make it resonate and be more meaningful?” Goldbach said. “We can treat the issue, certainly, but we also need to be looking further upstream at the cause. If you don’t give kids some other way to manage their stress, they will just find ways to do it themselves. If it’s not drugs, it will be something else.”
Goldbach is also focusing his attention on another vulnerable population, as evidenced by his award-winning doctoral dissertation, “Toward the Prevention of Substance Use in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth,” which received recognition from the Journal of Social Work Practice in Addictions.
Although Goldbach is still in the formative stages of identifying how stressors related to victimization, school policies, family relationships, and discrimination affect LGBT youth and lead to negative health outcomes, he said his experiences working with Latino adolescents has informed his approach with LGBT youth and provided a valuable framework for understanding their unique needs.
“We need better measurements of the stressors in this population,” he said. “For example, there is a tendency to think that families simply accept or reject their child when they come out, but these are likely not two ends on the same continuum, and we need to understand this and other complicated mechanisms much more accurately before we can think about intervention.”
Holleran Steiker, L., Hopson, L. & Goldbach, J. (in press). Evidence for Site- Specific, Systematic Adaptation of Substance Prevention Curriculum with High Risk Youth in Community and Alternative School Settings. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse.
Cervantes, R.C., Goldbach, J. & Padilla, A. (2012). Using Qualitative Methods to Revise the Hispanic Stress Inventory. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 34(2), 208-231.
Cervantes, R.C., Goldbach, J., Yeung, A. & Rey, T. (2012). Development of a measurement tool to examine environmental strategies and social norms change: Results from a phone survey. The American Journal of Evaluation.
Goldbach, J. & Holleran Steiker, L. (2011). An examination of cultural adaptations performed by LGBT identified youth to a culturally grounded, evidence based substance abuse intervention. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 23(2), 188-200.
Goldbach, J., Thompson, S. & Holleran Steiker, L. (2011). Special Considerations for Substance Abuse Intervention with Latino Youth. The Prevention Researcher, 18(2), 8-11.
Cervantes, R.C., Goldbach, J. & Santos, S. (2011). Familia Adelante: A multirisk prevention intervention for Latino youth. Journal of Primary Prevention.
Holleran Steiker, L., Goldbach, J., Hopson, L. & Powell, T. (2011). The value of cultural adaptation processes: Older youth participating as substance abuse Preventionists. Child and Adolescent Social Work.
Holleran Steiker, L., Powell, T., Goldbach, J. & Hopson, L. (2011). Dissonance-Based Interventions for Substance Using Alternative High School Youth. Practice, 23(4), 235-252.
Roundtree, M., Goldbach, J., Bent-Goodley, T. & Bagwell, M. (2011). HIV/AIDS knowledge and prevention programming in domestic violence shelters: How are we doing?. Journal of HIV/AIDS and Social Services, 10(1), 42-54.
Holleran Steiker, L., Pomeroy, B., Goldbach, J. & Sanchez, K. (2011). Adults. In Jordan, C. & Franklin, C (Eds.) Clinical Assessment for Social Workers: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods.: Lyceum Books, Inc.
Montgomery, K. & Goldbach, J. (2010). An Empirical and Conceptual Application of Self- Esteem: A Review of the Literature. Perspectives on Social Work, 9, 30-37.
Sen, S., Aguilar, J. & Goldbach, J. (2010). Does social capital act as a buffer against HIV risk among migrant men in Sub-Saharan Africa?. The Journal of HIV/AIDS and Social Services, 9(2), 190-211.
Holleran Steiker, L., Goldbach, J., Hopson, L., Sagun, D. & Laird, J. (2009). Prevention Science. In Cohen, L. M., Collins, F. L, Young, A. M., McChargue, D. E., & Leffingwell, T. R (Eds.) The Pharmacology and Treatment of Substance Abuse: Evidence and Outcome Based Perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Holleran Steiker, L. & Goldbach, J. (2008). Research to practice: The value of engaging youth in adapting substance abuse prevention interventions.Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Resear, supp. 32, 368A.
- Master of Social Work