Eric R. Pedersen

Photo of Eric Pedersen
Adjunct Behavioral Scientist
Off Site Office


Ph.D. in clinical psychology, University of Washington

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Eric R. Pedersen is an adjunct behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. His primary affiliation is with the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. His research interests are primarily in the areas of young adult/adolescent alcohol use and comorbid mental health disorders. Pedersen has received funding to develop brief, online interventions to reduce alcohol misuse among young adult populations such as college students and recently discharged veterans. He is interested in finding ways to target comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders among active duty and young adult veterans, as well as using internet-based methods to help reduce alcohol misuse and promote treatment engagement among non–treatment-seeking young adults. He is also serving as the director of Project ALERT, which is a school-based drug prevention program for middle school youth developed at RAND. He is currently examining how cannabis use among young adults has changed during the time of recreational legalization. He trained at the VA San Diego, where he focused on rotations in empirically supported interventions for PTSD and dual diagnoses (i.e., comorbid substance abuse and mental health disorders). Pedersen earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Washington.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

Recent Projects

  • Preventing Alcohol Misuse Among Young Adult Veterans Through Brief Online Intervention
  • Associations of Exposure to Marijuana Outlets and Advertising with Marijuana Use Outcomes Among Young Adults
  • Mobile Application Intervention Targeting the High-Risk Drinking Practice of Prepartying
  • Online Intervention to Prevent Risky Behaviors During College Student Study Abroad Experiences
  • Project ALERT Drug Prevention

Selected Publications

Pedersen, E. R., Firth, C., Rodriguez, A., Shih, R. A., Seelam, R., Kraus, L., Dunbar, M. S., Tucker, J. S., Kilmer, B., & D’Amico, E.J., "Examining associations between licensed and unlicensed outlet density and cannabis outcomes from pre- to post-opening of recreational cannabis outlets," The American Journal on Addictions, 30, 2021

Pedersen, E. R., Bouskill, K. E., Holliday, S.B., Cantor, J., Smucker, S., Mizel, M. L., Skrabala, L., Kofner, A. & Tanielian, T., Improving Substance Use Care: Addressing Barriers to Expanding Integrated Treatment Options for Post-9/11 Veterans., RAND (RR-4354), 2020

Pedersen, E. R., D’Amico, E. J., LaBrie, J. W., Klein, D. J., Farris, C., & Griffin, B. A., "Alcohol and sexual risk among American college students studying abroad," Prevention Science, 21, 2020

Pedersen, E. R., Neighbors, C., Atkins, D. C., Lee, C. M., & Larimer, M. E., "Brief online interventions targeting risk and protective factors for increased and problematic alcohol use among American college students studying abroad," Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 31, 2017

Pedersen, E.R., Parast, L., Marshall, G. N., Schell, T. L., & Neighbors, C., "A randomized controlled trial of a web-based personalized normative feedback alcohol intervention for young adult veterans," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85, 2017

Pedersen, E. R., Huang, W., Dvorak, R. D., Prince, M., Hummer, J. F., & Marijuana Outcomes Study Team., "The Protective Behavioral Strategies for Marijuana Scale: Further examination using Item Response Theory," Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 31, 2017

Pedersen, E. R., "Using the solid research base on pregaming to begin intervention development: An epilogue to the special issue on college pregaming," Substance Use and Misuse, 51, 2016

Pedersen, E.R., Helmuth, E. D., Marshall, G. N., Schell, T. L., PunKay, M., & Kurz, J., "Using Facebook to recruit young adult veterans: Online mental health research," JMIR Research Protocols, 4(2), 2015


  • A U.S. Air Force airman sits with his head in his hands, an arm from offscreen reaches to put a hand on his shoulder, photo by Nadine Barclay, TSgt/U.S. Air Force

    PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Are a Vicious Cycle for Veterans

    It is not uncommon to see a co-occurrence of PTSD and heavy use of substances, which can rise to the level of a substance use disorder. It may be necessary to challenge how the needs of veterans are addressed to remove barriers to care that make treating these co-occurring disorders simultaneously so difficult.

    Sep 15, 2020

  • Young adults browse samples at Shango Cannabis on the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in Portland, Oregon, October 1, 2015

    Strategies to Help Young Adults Limit Negative Consequences of Marijuana Use

    Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 have been shown to be the most prevalent and problematic users of marijuana. There are proven strategies that people can use to help protect themselves from experiencing harmful effects.

    Feb 19, 2018 The RAND Blog

  • Man wearing camouflage using a laptop

    Social Media as a Tool for Reaching Veterans in Need of Mental Health Care

    Reaching veterans to learn more about their mental health care seeking poses a conundrum. They are typically recruited for studies in clinical settings, so those who are not seeking care are not represented. Facebook may be a viable method to reach them.

    Jun 9, 2015 The RAND Blog