MPH 1993, Epidemiology, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
MD 1980, Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
BA 1976, Biology, Oberlin College, Ohio
Jeffrey Sonis, M.D., M.P.H. is Associate Professor of Social Medicine and Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). His scholarly work has focused on psychosocial consequences human rights violations, posttraumatic stress disorder and epidemiologic research methods for studying psychological trauma.
He has conducted research with survivors from Bosnia, South Africa, United States (9/11), Vietnamese prison camps and Cambodia. He is particularly interested in understanding the effects of social mechanisms to promote justice in post-conflict settings, such as trials and truth commissions. His NIH-funded study of Cambodians’ responses to the Khmer Rouge trials (5R01MH081140) is the first national longitudinal study of any human rights tribunal (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.). In all of that work, he includes outcomes, such as perceptions of justice and desire for revenge, that go beyond traditional conceptions of mental health.
Dr. Sonis’s work on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has centered on identification, though the use of meta-analysis, of the most effective interventions for PTSD treatment, development of clinical practice guidelines and education of clinicians to improve quality of care. He was the Vice-Chair for the American Psychological Association (APA) Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/. As part of his work with the Citizen Soldier Support Program at UNC, he developed an online educational module for primary care practitioners, Treating the Invisible Wounds of War: A Primary Care Approach http://www.aheconnect.com/citizensoldier/cdetail.asp?courseid=citizensoldier5 .
To promote the development of rigorous research methods for studying psychological trauma, he developed and was the Principal Investigator of the NIH-funded annual Conference on Innovations in Trauma Research Methods, 2004-2008. In 2008, he received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Trauma Research Methodology from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
Dr. Sonis enjoys teaching. He teaches one of the seminar groups for the Social and Health Systems 1 and 2 courses and also teaches a seminar, Health and Human Rights, for the Social and Health Systems 3 course. In 2006, he was selected an inaugural Fellow in the School of Medicine Academy of Educators and in 2017, he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society as a faculty member at UNC.
Dr. Sonis practiced clinical family medicine from 1980 to 2017 in a variety of settings.