Skip to main content

Madison Shea Smith Joins the ISGMH Faculty 

Madison Shea SmithMadison Shea Smith, PhD, joined the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) and Department of Medical Social Sciences as a research assistant professor on July 1.  
Smith originally came to ISGMH as a postdoctoral scholar in 2021. A clinical psychologist with a background in couples research and therapy, Smith studies the interplay of romantic relationships and health.  
“One’s romantic relationships can be a powerful vector for health, as well as health disparities. My research places specific emphasis on sexual and gender minority communities and uses advanced quantitative methods to glean insights from complex data,” said Smith.  
While studying for her PhD at Purdue University, Smith increasingly questioned how the relationship science literature applied to couples that fell outside the heterosexual and cisgender default common across research in the field.  
“I’m a relationship scientist by training, and a lot of that research focuses on heterosexual and cisgender relationship experiences. But when I started to look at the relationships between sexual and gender minorities, I started seeing different effects from what we would expect based on decades of research on heterosexual pairings. This emphasized for me the need to couch how relationships can promote or be detrimental to health in one’s sociocultural environment. Combined with my deeply personal commitment to sexual and gender minority health equity, this encouraged me to further study the role romantic relationships play in sexual and gender minority health,” said Smith. 
Currently, Smith’s work with the all2GETHER relationship education project at ISGMH studies HIV prevention among sexual & gender minority couples. By bringing her dual focus on sexual and gender minority populations and advanced quantitative methods to this project, Smith is addressing what she considers “a huge gap in relationship education.” 
“The majority of new HIV infections among sexual and gender minorities occur within the context of primary romantic relationships, so these can be a powerful place to observe and ameliorate HIV risk. I’m especially interested in parsing the connections between substance use, intimate partner violence, and HIV risk among sexual and gender minorities. We know that substance use and intimate partner violence cluster with increased HIV risk, but we don’t know why this is happening. I want to disentangle these, with the ultimate goal of being able to develop targeted HIV and intimate partner aggression-focused interventions for people who use substances,” said Smith.  

Smith is also leveraging her early training in psychometrics to coordinate measurement for RADAR, ISGMH's multilevel cohort study of sexual and gender minorities in Chicago. 

Read Madison Shea Smith’s Top Publications 

Substance Use and Relationship Functioning Among Young Male Couples 
Madison Shea Smith, Michael E Newcomb 
Archives of Sexual Behavior 
Partner Gender and Binegativity Uniquely Impact Relationship Quality Among Bisexual Men 
Madison Shea Smith, Brian A Feinstein, Brian Mustanski, Michael E Newcomb 
The Journal of Sex Research 
Romantic Attachment Style and Borderline Personality Pathology: A Meta-Analysis 
Madison Smith, Susan South 
Clinical Psychology Review