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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Sarah Woolf-King, Ph.D.

Woolf-King portrait

Associate Professor, Ph.D.


510 Huntington Hall


The overarching goal of my research is to inform the development of behavioral and psychological interventions that enhance the well-being of high-risk populations, and patients and families coping with chronic medical conditions. The majority of my work focuses on at-risk alcohol use, sexual risk behavior, and behavioral aspects of HIV treatment and prevention. My lab works with emerging adult populations, people of marginalized genders and sexualities, people living with HIV, and people who drink alcohol at levels that increase risk for the development of alcohol use disorder. Ongoing research in the lab includes: internet-based studies of sexual behavior and substance use among U.S. college students, an intensive longitudinal study on the association between substance use and sexual risk behavior among HIV-infected men who have sex with men (MSM), and a pilot randomized controlled trial of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for people living with HIV who drink at hazardous levels. I am also involved with several projects related to alcohol use and HIV/AIDS in East Africa, and I have an emerging line of research on the mental health needs of parents of children affected by congenital heart disease (CHD). All of the studies in my lab have transitioned to remote data collection in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


PSY 382 Health Psychology

PSY 682 Physiological Health Psychology

PSY 624 Graduate Seminar in Psychological Methods

Education and Training

B.S., Psychology, Arizona State University

M.S., Clinical Psychology, Syracuse University

Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Syracuse University

M.P.H., Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley

Predoctoral Internship, Behavioral Medicine, VA Palo Alto Health Care System

T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, UCSF

Certification and Licensure

Licensed clinical psychologist, State of California.

Licensed clinical psychologist, State of New York.

Ongoing Research Projects

NIH/NIAAA; R34AA026246 (Co-PIs: Woolf-King, Maisto). “Brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for HIV-infected at-risk Drinkers.” This project aims to adapt an existing brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)-based treatment that has shown efficacy for smoking cessation, and conduct a pilot randomized clinical trial (RCT) to test its feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy for HIV-infected hazardous drinkers. This study is ongoing and open to enrollment.

NIH/NIAAA; K01AA021671 (PI: Woolf-King). “Alcohol and high-risk behavior among HIV+ men: A prospective event-level study.” Description: This project aims to characterize the event-level association between substance use and sexual risk behavior among HIV-infected men who have sex with men (MSM) using interactive voice response [IVR] technology, the timeline follow back, and a biomarker of alcohol use (phosphatidylethanol [PEth]). This study is in the data analysis phase.

NIH/NIAAA; R01AA024990 (PI: Hahn). “Mobile technology to extend clinic-based counseling for HIV+s in Uganda.” The purpose of this study is to conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a technology-supplemented brief intervention for unhealthy drinkers in HIV care in rural Uganda (n=270). Role: Co-Investigator

Selected Publications

Below is a list of representative publications. For a full list, please visit:

*denotes student author

Woolf-King, S. E., *Sheinfil, A., *Ramos, J., *Foley, J., *Moskal, D., Kellen, D., Maisto, S. A. (in press). A conceptual model of alcohol use and adherence to antiretroviral therapy: Systematic review and theoretical implications for mechanisms of action. Health Psychology Review.

Woolf-King, S. E., *Sheinfil, A. Z., *Babowitch, J.D., Siedle-Khan, B., *Loitsch, A., Maisto, S. A. (2019). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for HIV-infected hazardous drinkers: A qualitative study of acceptability. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 37(3), 342-358.

Woolf-King, S. E., Anger, A., Arnold, E., Weiss, S., & Teitel, D. (2018). Mental health among parents of children with severe congenital heart defects: A systematic review. Journal of the American Heart Association,6, pii: e004862.

Woolf-King, S.E., Arnold, E.A., Weiss, S., & Teitel, D. (2018). "There's no acknowledgement of what this does to people": A qualitative exploration of mental health among parents of children with critical congenital heart defects. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27, 2785-2794.

Woolf-King, S. E., Fatch, R., Emenyonu, N., Cheng, D., Muyindike, W. Kekibiina, A., Ngabirano, C., & Hahn, J. (2018). Alcohol use and unprotected sex among HIV-infected Ugandan adults: Findings from an event-level study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47, 1937-1948.

Woolf-King, S. E., Fatch, R., Emenyonu, N., Muyindike, W., Carrico, A. W., Maisto, S. A. & Hahn, J. A. (2015). Development and validation of the East Africa Alcohol Expectancy Scale (AFEXS). Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 72(2), 336-343.

Woolf-King, S. E., & Maisto, S. A. (2011). Alcohol and high-risk sexual behavior in sub-Saharan Africa: A narrative review. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40(1), 17-42.

Woolf, S. E. & Maisto, S. A. (2009). Alcohol use and risk of HIV infection among men who have sex with men. AIDS and Behavior, 13, 757-782.

Manuscripts under review

*Sheinfil, A. & Woolf-King, S. Development of an affect induction procedure to elicit arousal and valence. Submitted.

*Firkey, M., *Sheinfil, A., Woolf-King, S.E. Substance use, sexual behavior, and general well-being of U.S. college students during the COVID-19 pandemic: A brief report. Submitted.

*Simmons, E.M., *Firkey, M.K., *Sheinfil, A.Z., *Ramos, J.M, Woolf-King, S.E. The association between financial resources strain and perceived adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) among HIV-positive men who have sex with men: A brief report. Submitted.


Psychologists Earn Rare Perfect Score on NIH Grant Application

(April 5, 2018)

Sarah Woolf-King, Stephen Maisto awarded "10" on grant proposal, funding treatment of HIV-infected hazardous drinkers