Joseph W. Ditre

Associate Professor, Psychology


Ph.D., University of South Florida, Clinical Psychology

*Dr. Ditre will be recruiting a new clinical graduate student for Fall 2017 admission

Research Interests

  • Health Psychology, Addiction Psychology, and Behavioral Medicine
  • Substance Use Disorders and Chronic Medical Conditions (co-occurrence and reciprocity)
    • (e.g., Nicotine/Tobacco, Alcohol, Cannabis, Opioids, Chronic Pain, Cancer, HIV)
  • Comorbid Psychopathology and Cognitive-Affective Factors
    • (e.g., Anxiety/Depression, Catastrophizing, Coping, Fear Avoidance, Expectancies)
  • Human Experimental Models of Pain and Substance Use
    • (e.g., Psychosocial, Pathophysiological, and Neurobiological Mechanisms of Action)
  • Translation of Basic Research to Inform the Development of Novel Treatments
    • (e.g., Integrated/Sequential, Personalized Feedback, and Cue Exposure Interventions)
  • Integrated Healthcare and Primary Care-Based Research/Intervention Development
    • (e.g., Center for Integrated Healthcare, US Department of Veterans Affairs)

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Joseph W. Ditre is a licensed clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Syracuse University. He holds secondary appointments in the Department of Medicine at Upstate Medical University and in the Center for Integrated Healthcare at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. He is also Director of the Pain and Addiction Research (PAR) Lab, which operates out of the Central New York Medical Center in Syracuse NY.

Dr. Ditre’s research cuts across basic and applied work in the areas of Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, with a primary emphasis on the intersection of addictive behaviors and comorbid medical disorders. At the broadest level, this research examines how the use of substances may influence the onset and progression of comorbid medical disorders, and how the symptoms/sequelae of medical disorders may influence the use of addictive substances. More specifically, he has established a programmatic line of research that applies a multi-method approach to the study of complex interrelations between pain, affect, comorbid psychopathology, and the maintenance of addiction.

Dr. Ditre’s research has been continuously funded by National Institutes of Health since prior to receiving his doctoral degree in 2010, with the majority of this work to date focused on conceptualizing and testing bi-directional associations between the experience of acute/chronic pain and the self-administration of nicotine/tobacco, with the ultimate goal of using this data to inform the development of innovative treatments. Specific examples of grant-funded projects include: testing the effects of situational pain on smoking urge and behavior (F31DA023728, PI: Ditre); testing the effects of smoking abstinence on experimental pain sensitivity/reactivity (R21DA034285, PI: Ditre); and applying these data to develop novel interventions for smokers with co-occurring pain (R21DA038204, PI: Ditre; F31DA039628, PI: Zale).  Dr. Ditre’s research program is currently undergoing a planned expansion to the study of unique interactions between pain and the use of substances other than nicotine/tobacco (e.g., alcohol, cannabis, and prescription opioids), with an increased focus the explication of cognitive-affective, neurobiological, and psychosocial mechanisms of action.

In addition to directing the PAR lab, Dr. Ditre serves as instructor and research mentor for undergraduate students and graduate students in the clinical psychology doctoral program at Syracuse University. He is currently the primary advisor to four clinical doctoral students, including Emily Zale, Jesse Kosiba, Martin De Vita, and Lisa La Rowe. He is also on the editorial boards of several peer-reviewed journals, including as a consulting editor for Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, associate editor for BMC Public Health, and section editor for Elsevier’s new journal, Current Opinion in Psychology. Finally, he regularly serves as a grant reviewer for the California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (Disparities, Interventions, and Social Participatory Review Panel) and the University of Missouri Research Board.

Ongoing/Pending NIH-Funded Research Projects

NIDA R21DA038204 (PI: Ditre); 07/01/2014 – 06/30/2016

PFI for Smoking and Analgesic Misuse among Older Adults with HIV and Chronic Pain

The goal of this study is to adapt and pilot test a brief, integrated, computer-based personalized feedback intervention (PFI) for older adults with comorbid HIV and chronic pain aimed at increasing intentions to quit smoking and decreasing intentions to misuse prescription analgesic medications.

NIDA R21DA034285 (PI: Ditre); 08/2012 – 03/2016

Effects of Smoking Abstinence on Pain Reactivity: A Human Experimental Model

Increased pain or hyperalgesia as a function of smoking abstinence may precipitate relapse and undermine the goals of treatment for both pain and tobacco dependence. The goal of this study is to manipulate smoking abstinence to determine whether nicotine deprivation and subsequent withdrawal effects may increase pain sensitivity/reactivity among current daily smokers.   

NIDA F31DA039628 (PI: Zale; Sponsor: Ditre); 06/2015 – 05/2017

Increasing Cessation Motivation and Treatment Engagement among Smokers in Pain

The goal of this Predoctoral NRSA (awarded to advanced clinical graduate student, Emily Zale) is to test a brief primary care-based intervention for smokers with co-occurring pain that is designed to increase knowledge of pain-smoking interrelations, enhance motivation to engage a serious quit attempt, and increase engagement in available smoking cessation treatment.

NIAA R01AA024844 (MPI: Ditre, Maisto); Pending - Submitted: 6/5/2015

The Alcohol-Pain Connection: Mechanisms and Genetic/Psychological Correlates

The goal of the proposed study is to employ an innovative, multi-method approach to examine complex and potentially bidirectional relations between pain and the consumption of alcohol in one overarching experimental paradigm. This research may enhance our understanding of complex pain-alcohol relations, challenge clinical practice paradigms, and catalyze for future work in this emerging domain.

Selected Publications (*Student Authors)

Click on CV link to the right or view a complete Google Scholar search

Ditre, J. W., Heckman, B. W., Zale*, E. L., Kosiba*, J. D., & Maisto, S. A. (2016). Acute analgesic effects of nicotine and tobacco in humans: A meta-analysis. Pain.

^Selected as Editor’s Choice article and featured in journal and on website

Ditre, J. W., Kosiba*, J. D., Zale*, E. L., Zvolensky, M. J., & Maisto, S. A. (2016). Chronic pain status, nicotine withdrawal, and expectancies for smoking cessation among lighter smokers. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. doi: 10.1007/s12160-016-9769-9.

Ditre, J. W. & Maisto, S. A. (2015). Editorial overview: Health behavior. Current Opinion in Psychology. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.07.004.

Zale*, E. L., Maisto, S. A., & Ditre, J. W. (2015). The role of anxiety and depression in bi-directional relations between pain and tobacco smoking. Behavior Modification. doi: 10.1177/0145445515610744.

Ditre, J. W., Zale*, E. L., & Brandon, T. H. (2015). Patterns and predictors of smoking cessation. In R. Loddenkemper & M. Kreuter (Eds.), The Tobacco Epidemic, 2nd edition (pp. 210-218). doi: 10.1159/000369500. Basel: Karger.

Zale*, E. L., & Ditre, J. W. (2015). Pain-related fear, disability, and the fear-avoidance model of chronic pain. Current Opinion in Psychology, 5:24–30. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.014

Goesling, J., Brummett, C. M., Meraj, T. S., Moser, S., Hassett, A. L., & Ditre, J. W. (2015). Associations between pain, current tobacco smoking, depression and fibromyalgia status among treatment-seeking chronic pain patients. Pain Medicine, 16 (7), 1433-1442. doi: 10.1111/pme.12747.

Zale*, E. L., Maisto, S. A., & Ditre, J. W. (2015). Interrelations between pain and alcohol: An integrative review. Clinical Psychology Review, 37, 57-71. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2015.02.005

Ditre, J. W., Langdon, K. J., Kosiba*, J. D., Zale*, E. L., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2014). Relations between pain-related anxiety, tobacco dependence, and barriers to quitting among a community-based sample of daily smokers. Addictive Behaviors, 42, 130-135. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.11.032

Zale*, E. L., Dorfman*, M. L., Hooten, W. M., Warner, D. O., Zvolensky, M. J., & Ditre, J. W. (2014). Tobacco smoking, nicotine dependence, and patterns of prescription opioid misuse: Results from a nationally representative sample. Nicotine &Tobacco Research. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu227

Zale*, E. L., Ditre, J. W., Dorfman*, M. L., Heckman, B. W., & Brandon, T. H. (2014). Smokers in pain report lower confidence and greater difficulty quitting. Nicotine and Tobacco Research 16(9), 1272-1276.  doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu077

Zale*, E. L., & Ditre, J. W. (2014). Associations Between Chronic Pain Status, Attempts to Quit Smoking, and Use of Pharmacotherapy for Smoking Cessation. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 28(1), 294-299. doi: 10.1037/a0032515

Ditre, J. W., Zale*, E. L., Kosiba*, J. D., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2013). A pilot study of pain-related anxiety and smoking dependence motives among persons with chronic pain. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 21(6), 443-449. doi: 10.1037/a0034174

Zale*, E. L., Lang*, K. L., Fields, S. A., & Ditre, J. W. (2013). The relation between fear of pain and disability: A meta-analysis. Journal of Pain, 14(10), 1019-1030. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2013.05.005

Ditre, J. W., Oliver, J. A., Myrick, H., Henderson, S., Saladin, M. E., & Drobes, D. J. (2012). Effects of Divalproex on Smoking Cue Reactivity and Cessation Outcomes Among Smokers Achieving Initial Abstinence. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 20(4), 293-301. doi: 2012-08593-001

Ditre, J. W., Brandon, T. H., Zale*, E. L., & Meagher, M. M. (2011). Pain, nicotine, and smoking: Research findings and mechanistic considerations. Psychological Bulletin, 137(6), 1065-1093. doi:10.1037/a0025544

Ditre, J. W., Gonzalez, B. D., Simmons, V. N., Faul, L. A., Brandon, T. H., & Jacobsen, P. B. (2011). Associations between pain and current smoking status among cancer patients. Pain, 152(1), 60-65. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2010.09.001

Ditre, J. W., Heckman, B. W., Butts*, E. A., & Brandon, T. H. (2010). Effects of expectancies and coping on pain-induced motivation to smoke. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 119(3), 524-533. doi:10.1037/a0019568