Andrea Roberts

Research Associate

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences

677 Huntington Avenue

Boston, Massachusetts 02115


My research focuses on mental health, including causes and consequences of autism, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. I also study the psychological, behavioral, and physical health outcomes of trauma and stress, including PTSD, depression, intimate partner violence, and health-risk behaviors.  I am particularly interested in the effects of trauma on health across generations.

Related Links

Nicholas Kristof NYT op-ed: Is a Hard Life Inherited?

“Obviously, some people born into poverty manage to escape, and bravo to them. That tends to be easier when the constraint is just a low income, as opposed to other pathologies such as alcoholic, drug-addicted or indifferent parents or a neighborhood dominated by gangs…. Too often wealthy people born on third base blithely criticize the poor for failing to hit home runs. The advantaged sometimes perceive empathy as a sign of muddle-headed weakness, rather than as a marker of civilization.”


Intergenerational effects of exposure to violence

Roberts AL, Galea S, Austin SB, Corliss HL, Williams MA, Koenen KC. Women’s experience of abuse in childhood and their children’s smoking and overweight. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2014. AJPM full text.

Roberts AL, Galea S, Austin SB, Cerda M, Wright RJ, Rich-Edwards JW, Koenen KC. Posttraumatic stress disorder across two generations: Concordance and mechanisms in a population-based sample. Biological Psychiatry 2012.

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Roberts AL, McLaughlin KA, Conron KJ, Koenen KC. Adulthood stressors, history of childhood adversity, and risk of perpetration of intimate partner violence.  American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2011; 40(2). Full text.

Roberts AL, Gilman SE, Fitzmaurice G, Decker MR, Koenen KC. Witness of intimate partner violence in childhood and perpetration of intimate partner violence in adulthood. Epidemiology 2010; 21 (809-18).  Full text.

Autism epidemiology

Roberts AL, Lyall K, Rich-Edwards JW, Ascherio A, Weisskopf MG. Association of maternal exposure to childhood abuse with elevated risk for autism in offspring. Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, 2013. Autism/child abuse manuscript. Autism/child abuse figureInterview BBC World Service (at minute 49:40). Commentary Forbes Magazine. News coverage Time, CNN, The Boston Globe.

Roberts AL, Lyall K, Hart JE, Laden F, Just AC, Bobb JF, Koenen KC, Ascherio A, Weisskopf MG. Perinatal Air Pollutant Exposures and Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Children of Nurses’ Health Study II Participants. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2013. Full text.   Interview on CNNCoverage on CBS news.

Roberts AL, Koenen KC, Lyall K, Ascherio A, Weisskopf MG. Women’s posttraumatic stress symptoms and autism spectrum disorder in their children. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2014;8(6):608-616.  RASD full text. News coverage New York Times.

Trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Roberts AL, Rosario M, Corliss HL, Koenen KC, Austin SB.  Childhood gender nonconformity: a risk indicator for childhood abuse and posttraumatic stress in youth.  Pediatrics, 2012; Feb 20. Full text. Figure.  News coverage in USA Today, Chicago Tribune, ReutersInterview on CommonHealth.

Roberts AL, Rosario M, Slopen N, Calzo JP, Austin SB. Childhood Gender Nonconformity, Bullying Victimization, and Depressive Symptoms Across Adolescence and Early Adulthood: An 11-Year Longitudinal Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2013; February. Full text. Figure. JAACAP interview podcast.

Roberts AL, Dohrenwend BP, Aiello A, Wright RW, Maercker A, Galea S, Koenen KC. The stressor criterion for posttraumatic stress disorder: Does it matter? The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2012; March. Full text.

Roberts AL, Rosario M, Corliss HL, Koenen KC, Austin SB. Elevated risk of posttraumatic stress in sexual minority youths: mediation by childhood abuse and gender nonconformity. American Journal of Public Health, 2012. 102(8): 1587-1593. Full text.

Roberts AL, Rosario M, Corliss HL, Wypij D, Lightdale JR, Austin SB. Sexual orientation and functional pain in U.S. young adults: The mediating role of childhood abuse. Plos One, 2013; Jan.

Roberts AL, Glymour MM, Koenen KC. Does maltreatment in childhood affect sexual orientation in adulthood? Archives of Sexual Behavior. Full text & figure. Response to commentary.

Roberts AL, Austin SB, Corliss HL, Vandermorris AK, Koenen KC. Pervasive trauma exposure among US sexual orientation minority adults and posttraumatic stress disorder risk. American Journal of Public Health 2010; 100(6). Full text.

Roberts AL, Gilman SE, Breslau J, Breslau N, Koenen KC. Race/ethnic differences in exposure to traumatic events, development of post-traumatic stress disorder, and treatment-seeking for post-traumatic stress disorder in the United States. Psychological Medicine 2010; 40:1-13. Full text.

Chang, SC, Xie P, Anton RF, De Vivo I, Farrer LA, Kranzler HR, Oslin D, Purcell SM, Roberts AL, Smoller JW, Uddin M, Gelernter J, Koenen KC (2011) No association between ADCYAP1R1 and post-traumatic stress disorder in two independent samples. Molecular Psychiatry.

Koenen KC, Moffitt TE, Roberts AL, Martin LT, Kubzansky L, Harrington H, Poulton R, Caspi A. Childhood IQ and Adult Mental Disorders: A Test of the Cognitive Reserve Hypothesis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2009; 166, 50-7.

Koenen KC, Roberts AL, Stone DM, Dunn EC. The epidemiology of early childhood trauma. In: Lanius RA, Vermetten E, Pain C, editors. The Impact of early life trauma on health and disease: The hidden epidemic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2010. p. 13-24.  Full text.

Health risk behaviors

Becker AE, Roberts AL, Perloe A, Bainivualiku A, Richards L, Gilman SE, Streigel-Moore, R. Youth health-risk behavior assessment in Fiji: the reliability of Global School-based Student Health Survey content adapted for ethnic Fijian girls. Ethnicity and Health 2010:1-17.

Becker AE, Thomas JJ, Bainivualiku A, Richards L, Navara K, Roberts AL, Streigel-Moore, R. Validity and reliability of a Fijian translation and adaptation of the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire. Int J Eat Disord 2010; 43(2):171-8.

Becker AE, Thomas JJ, Bainivualiku A, Richards L, Navara K, Roberts AL, Streigel-Moore, R. Adaptation and evaluation of the Clinical Impairment Assessment to assess disordered eating related distress in an adolescent female ethnic Fijian population. Int J Eat Disord 2010; 43(2):179-86.

Corliss HL, Austin SB, Roberts AL, Molnar BE. Sexual risk in ‘mostly heterosexual’ young women: Influence of social support and caregiver mental health. Journal of Women’s Health 2009; 18(12):2005-2010.

Austin SB, Roberts AL, Corliss HL, Molnar BE. ‘Mostly heterosexual’ and heterosexual young adult women: Sexual violence victimization history and sexual risk indicators in a community-based urban cohort. American Journal of Public Health 2008; 98(6):1015-1020.

Molnar BE, Cerda M, Roberts AL, Buka SL.  Effects of neighborhood resources on aggressive and delinquent behaviors among urban youth.  American Journal of Public Health 2008; 98(6):1086-1093.

Molnar BE, Roberts AL, Browne A, Gardener H, Buka SL.  What girls need: Recommendations for preventing violence among urban girls in the U.S.  Social Science & Medicine 2005; 60:2191-2204.