Kathleen Sikkema, PhD

  • Chair, Department of Sociomedical Sciences
  • Stephen Smith Professor, Sociomedical Sciences
Profile Headshot


Kathleen J. Sikkema, Ph.D., conducts community based intervention research focused on HIV prevention and mental health treatment in the U.S. and in low and middle income countries. She is a clinical psychologist who specializes in health and community psychology. Dr. Sikkema has led pioneering scholarship in global mental health, specifically related to traumatic stress, coping and gender violence. Funded by NIH for thirty years, her research program has focused on community-level HIV prevention trials, mental health interventions to improve HIV care engagement, and university-community research collaboration. U.S.-based HIV prevention interventions and mental health interventions developed by Dr. Sikkema and her teams have been identified by CDC and SAMHSA as best evidence interventions. Her research on HIV and mental health has had wide-ranging impact, including the development of prevention programs to improve health behaviors and access to treatment in low resource populations in this country and abroad. In South Africa, where Dr. Sikkema has worked for over twenty years, her current research focuses on integrating mental health treatment into HIV primary care for women who have experienced sexual trauma. This research addresses the syndemic nature of HIV and mental disorders, whereby social and economic contextual factors create and exacerbate the risk of disease progression.

Academic Appointments

  • Chair, Department of Sociomedical Sciences
  • Stephen Smith Professor, Sociomedical Sciences

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BA, 1984 Central College
  • MS, 1987 Illinois State University
  • MS, 1988 Virginia Tech
  • PhD, 1991 Virginia Tech

Committees, Societies, Councils

Honorary Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town


Research Interests

  • Biostatistical Methods
  • Community Health
  • Global Health
  • Maternal and Reproductive Health
  • Mental Health

Selected Publications

Sikkema, K.J., Rabie, S., King, A., Watt, M.H., Mulawa, M.I., Andersen, L.S., Wilson, P.A., Marais, A., Ndwandwa, E., Majokweni, S., Orrell, C., & Joska, J.A. ImpACT+, a coping intervention to improve clinical outcomes for women living with HIV and sexual trauma in South Africa: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2022;23(680). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-022-06655-5

Kohrt, B.A., Jordans, M.J., Turner, E.L., Rai, S., Gurung, D. Dhakal, M., Bhardwaj, A., Lamichhane, J., Singla, D.R., Lund, C, Patel, V., Luitel, N.P., & Sikkema, K.J. Collaboration with people with lived experience of mental illness to reduce stigma and improve primary care services in Nepal: A pilot cluster randomized clinical trial. JAMA Network Open. 2021;4(11):e2131475. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.31475

Choi, K. W., Houts, R., Arseneault, L., Pariante, C., Sikkema, K. J., & Moffitt, T. E. Maternal depression in the intergenerational transmission of childhood maltreatment and its sequelae: Testing postpartum effects in a longitudinal birth cohort.. Development and Psychopathology. 2019; 31(1), 143-156. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579418000032

Sikkema, K. J., Mulawa, M. I., Robertson, C., Watt, M. H., Ciya, N., Stein, D. J., ... Joska, J. A. Improving AIDS Care After Trauma (ImpACT): Pilot Outcomes of a Coping intervention Among HIV-Infected Women with Sexual Trauma in South Africa. AIDS and Behavior. 2018; 22(3), 1039-1052. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-017-2013-1

Sikkema, K. J., Choi, K. W., Robertson, C., Knettel, B. A., Ciya, N., Knippler, E. T., ... Joska, J. A. Development of a coping intervention to improve traumatic stress and HIV care engagement among South African women with sexual trauma histories. Evaluation and Program Planning. 2018; 68, 148-156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2018.02.007

Weisburd, D., Cave, B., Nelson, M., White, C., Haviland, A., Ready, J., ... Sikkema, K. Mean Streets and Mental Health: Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at Crime Hot Spots.. American Journal of Community Psychology. 2018; 61(3-4), 285-295. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12232

Puffer, E.S., Green, E.P., Sikkema, K.J., Broverman, S.A., Ogwang-Odhiambo, R.A., & Pian, J. A church-based intervention for families to promote mental health and prevent HIV among adolescents in rural Kenya: Results of a randomized trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2016; 84(6):511-25. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000076

Sikkema, K.J., Dennis, A.C., Watt, M.H., Choi, K.W., Yemeke, T., & Joska, J.A. Improving mental health among people living with HIV: A review of intervention trials in low- and middle-income countries. Global Mental Health. 2015. 2, e19-42. doi: 10.1017/gmh.2015.17

Abler, L., Sikkema, K.J., Watt, M.H., Pitpitan, E.V., Kalichman, S.C., Skinner, D., & Pieterse, D. Longitudinal cohort study of depression, post-traumatic stress and alcohol use in South African women who attend alcohol-serving venues. BMC Psychiatry. 2014; 14:224. doi:10.1186/s12888-014-0224-9

Sikkema, K.J., Ranby, K.W., Meade, C.S., Hansen, N.B., Wilson, P.A., & Kochman, A. Reductions in traumatic stress following a coping intervention were mediated by decreases in avoidant coping for people living with HIV/AIDS and childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2013; 81:274-283. doi: 10.1037/a0030144.

Global Health Activities

A Randomized Trial of ImpACT+, a Coping Intervention to Improve Clinical and Mental Health Outcomes among HIV-infected Women with Sexual Trauma in South Africa (NIMH)

Improving the Health of South African Women with Traumatic Stress in HIV Care (NIMH)

Alcohol-Related HIV Risks among South African Women (NIAAA)