Associate Professor, Social Medicine
Associate Professor, Family Medicine
Course Director, Clinical Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Medicine
MD 1980, Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
MPH 1993, Epidemiology, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
BA 1976, Biology, Oberlin College, Ohio
My research has focused on the psychosocial consequences of gross violations of human rights. I have conducted research with survivors from Bosnia, South Africa, United States (9/11), Vietnamese prison camps and Cambodia. I am particularly interested in understanding the effects of social mechanisms to promote justice in post-conflict settings, such as trials and truth commissions. My NIH-funded study of Cambodians’ responses to the Khmer Rouge trials (5R01MH081140) is the first national longitudinal study of any human rights tribunal. Findings from a pre-trial wave of data collection in Cambodia were published in the August 5th, 2009 issue of JAMA (Probable posttraumatic stress disorder and disability in Cambodia: associations with perceived justice, desire for revenge and attitudes toward the Khmer Rouge trials, JAMA 2009; 2009; 302(5):527-536.). My work has been funded by both private foundations (e.g., the Andrus Family Fund) and U.S. government funding agencies (U.S. Institute of Peace, NIH). In all of my work, I focus on outcomes, such as perceptions of justice that go beyond traditional conceptions of mental health.
I am also interested in epidemiologic research methods used to study the effects of psychological trauma. I was the PI of the NIH-funded annual Conference on Innovations in Trauma Research Methods, 2004-2008, and have edited an annual Special Section in the Journal of Traumatic Stress devoted to papers from those conferences. In 2008, I received an award from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies for Outstanding Contribution to Trauma Research Methodology.
In my teaching role, I direct the Clinical Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Medicine course and a seminar on health and human rights, both for second year medical students at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2006, I was selected an inaugural Fellow in the School of Medicine Academy of Educators.
I maintain an active primary care clinical practice in the Department of Family Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Post: Jeffrey Sonis / CB #7240, Department of Social Medicine / University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240