Yzette Lanier headshot

Yzette Lanier

Assistant Professor

1 212 998 5803

433 First Avenue
Room 406
New York, NY 10010
United States

Accepting PhD students

Yzette Lanier's additional information

Yzette Lanier, PhD, is an assistant professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. As a developmental psychologist, her research broadly centers on health promotion and disease prevention in communities of color, with a special focus on preventing HIV/STIs and unintended pregnancy among African American adolescents. Using health equity and strengths-based lenses, her research seeks to understand how individual, social, and cultural factors influence adolescents’ sexual decision-making. Lanier’s current research examines how adolescent romantic relationships influence sexual behaviors. Her long-term goal is to develop effective developmentally-appropriate, culturally tailored interventions that promote healthy romantic relationships and protective sexual behaviors among adolescents. In June 2016, Lanier was awarded $1.2 million from the CDC for HIV behavior intervention based on young black heterosexual couples' dynamics.  

Lanier earned her PhD and MS in developmental psychology at Howard University. She completed a T32 postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Health Equity Research at the University of Pennsylvania and a postdoctoral research fellowship in HIV prevention in communities of color at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for Health Equity Research - University of Pennsylvania
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for HIV Prevention in Communities of Color - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
PhD, Developmental Psychology - Howard University
MS, Developmental Psychology - Howard University
BS, Psychology - Howard University

Infectious disease
Community/population health
Vulnerable & marginalized populations

American Psychological Association
American Public Health Association
Association of Black Psychologists
Society for Research on Adolescence

Faculty Honors Awards

Visiting Scholar, Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, Yale University


Methodological strategies to engage young black and Latino heterosexual couples in sexual and reproductive health research

Failed retrieving data.

Successfully Recruiting Black and Hispanic/Latino Adolescents for Sexually Transmitted Infection and HIV Prevention Research

Failed retrieving data.

Interprofessional development of a livestream simulation activity to enhance an undergraduate nursing research course

Lanier, Y., Bryant, K., Budin, W. C., Marsaglia, M., Resto, D., Genee, J., Birk, K., Sultana, N., Carumba, R., & Jaravata, J. A. (2019). Nursing Education Perspectives, 40(1), 50-52. 10.1097/01.NEP.0000000000000432
The article describes the development, implementation, and evaluation of an interactive simulation activity to enhance student engagement and comprehension of evidence-based practice principles. An interprofessional team of nurse educators, simulation experts, information technology specialists, and nursing informatics graduate students collaborated on the simulation design. The results of this project support the need to develop innovative learning strategies to facilitate nursing students' understanding of the relevance of evidence-based practice research to improve patient outcomes.

Navigating virginities: enactment of sexual agency among Arab women in the USA

Abboud, S., Lanier, Y., Sweet Jemmott, L., & Sommers, M. S. (2019). Culture, Health and Sexuality, 21(10), 1103-1116. 10.1080/13691058.2018.1539249
People interpret virginity in a variety of ways with different implications for sexual identity and behaviour. In Arab societies, heterosexuality and compulsory virginity before marriage are traditionally understood as ideals for a ‘good’ Arab girl, a ‘good’ Arab family and, consequently, a ‘good’ Arab society. In this study, our goal was to gain an in-depth understanding of the enactment of sexual agency and decision-making around virginity from the perspectives of Arab women living in the USA. We conducted a qualitative phenomenological study involving interviews with ten women whose accounts could be grouped into three distinct types: ‘For me, it’s the person you marry that you will be doing these things with’; ‘I want to wait until marriage but I know there might be a possibility where I’m not’; and ‘I started dating this guy, and I did lose my virginity to him’. The life stories of the women illustrate different ways of enacting sexual agency that are strongly influenced by socio-cultural norms and contexts. Our findings have important implications for future research to better understand decisions and behaviours about virginity and how Arab women in the USA enact their sexuality.

Moving Beyond Age: An Exploratory Qualitative Study on the Context of Young African American Men and Women’s Sexual Debut

Lanier, Y., Stewart, J. M., Schensul, J. J., & Guthrie, B. J. (2018). Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 5(2), 261-270. 10.1007/s40615-017-0366-9
African American youth continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. Early sexual debut has been identified as a major determinant of HIV risk. However, emerging research suggests that the overarching context in which first sex occurs may have greater implications for sexual health than simply age alone. The purpose of this exploratory, qualitative study was to better understand the broader context of African Americans’ sexual debut. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 African American men and women aged 18–24 years. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. The mean age at sexual debut for the sample was 15.4 (SD = 3.3), and youth framed their sexual debut as positive (50%), negative (30%), and both positive and negative (20%). The majority of youth initiated pre-sex conversations with their partners to gauge potential interest in engaging in sexual activity, and all youth utilized at least one HIV/sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy prevention method. However, most youth failed to talk to their partners prior to sex about their past sexual histories and what the experience meant for their relationship. Key differences emerged between youth who framed the experience as positive and those who framed the experience as negative or both positive and negative in terms of their motivations for initiating sex (i.e., readiness to initiate sex, pressure, and emotionally safety) and post-sex emotions (i.e., remorse and contentment). Findings provide further support for examining the broader sexual context of African American’s sexual debut. A more comprehensive understanding of sexual debut will aid in the development and tailoring of sexual risk reduction programs targeting African American youth.

“You Know What You Gotta Do”: African American Fathers and Sons Perspectives’ on Parent–Child Sexual Risk Communication and HIV Intervention Development Needs

Baker, J. L., Lanier, Y., James, G., Fletcher, J., Delish, M., Opara, O., Sampson, C., Jemmott, L., & Stewart, J. (2018). Journal of Family Issues, 39(6), 1685-1711. 10.1177/0192513X17720960
Context: Although parents can be influential toward the sexual attitudes and behaviors of adolescents, fathers are significantly underrepresented in studies of parental influences on adolescent sexual practices and behaviors. Method: This mixed method study assessed the feasibility of implementing a HIV/STI (human immunodeficiency virus/sexually transmitted infection) risk reduction program for African American fathers and sons. Focus groups were conducted with 30 father–son pairs at a local barbershop. Adolescents ranged between 11 and 19 years old with a mean age of 14.71 years (SD = 2.14). Results: Fathers and sons were not in agreement about frequency of communication about sexual health issues. However, the majority of fathers and sons indicated they would attend a father–son HIV/STI risk reduction program together. Conclusion: This study supports the development of a HIV/STI risk reduction program for that can enhance sexual risk communication practices among African American fathers and sons.

Development of a Barbershop-Based HIV/STI Risk Reduction Intervention for Young Heterosexual African American Men

Jemmott, L. S., Jemmott, J. B., Lanier, Y., Thompson, C., & Baker, J. L. (2017). Health Promotion Practice, 18(1), 110-118. 10.1177/1524839916662601
Young, heterosexual African American men ages 18 to 24 years continue to be at high risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. However, few interventions have been designed to meet the needs of this “forgotten” population. The article describes the systematic development of a theory-based, culturally-tailored, gender-specific, barbershop-based HIV risk reduction intervention for heterosexual African American men ages 18 to 24. The process included developing a community advisory board, selecting a guiding theoretical framework, incorporating community-based participatory research principles, and conducting formative research with African American males, barbers, and barbershop owners. The result was Shape Up: Barbers Building Better Brothers, a 2-day, HIV risk reduction intervention focused on increasing HIV knowledge and condom use and reducing the number of sexual partners. Intervention sessions were facilitated by barbers who used iPads to deliver the content. As a high-risk population, this intervention has great public health significance for the health of African American men and their sexual partners.

Disparities in Retention in HIV Care among HIV-Infected Young Men Who Have Sex with Men in the District of Columbia, 2013

Morales-Alemán, M. M., Opoku, J., Murray, A., Lanier, Y., Kharfen, M., & Sutton, M. Y. (2017). LGBT Health, 4(1), 34-41. 10.1089/lgbt.2016.0126
Purpose: Among young men who have sex with men (YMSM), aged 13-24 years, Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for 58% and 21%, respectively, of diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States. In the District of Columbia (DC), YMSM of color are also disproportionately affected by HIV. National goals are that 80% of HIV-infected persons be retained in HIV care. We analyzed DC surveillance data to examine retention among YMSM living with HIV infection in DC. Methods: We characterized correlates of retention in HIV care (≥2 clinical visits, ≥3 months apart, within 12 months of diagnosis) among YMSM in DC to inform and strengthen local HIV care efforts. We analyzed data from DC HIV surveillance system for YMSM aged 13-29 years diagnosed between 2005 and 2012 and alive in 2013. We also combined demographic and clinical variables with sociodemographic data from the U.S. American Community Survey (ACS) by census tracts. Results: From 2005 to 2012, 1034 YMSM were diagnosed and living with HIV infection in DC; 83% were Black or Latino. Of the 1034 YMSM, 910 (88%) had census tract data available and were included in analyses (72% Black, 10% Latino, and 17% White); among the 854 (94%) linked to care, 376 (44%) were retained in care. In multivariate analyses, retention in care was less likely among 19-24 year YMSM compared with 13-18-year-old YMSM (adjusted prevalence ratios [aPR] = 0.89, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 0.80-0.99). Conclusion: Retention in HIV care was suboptimal for YMSM. Increased retention efforts are warranted to improve outcomes and reduce age and racial/ethnic disparities.

Examining Racial Discrimination Frequency, Racial Discrimination Stress, and Psychological Well-Being Among Black Early Adolescents

Lanier, Y., Sommers, M. S., Fletcher, J., Sutton, M. Y., & Roberts, D. D. (2017). Journal of Black Psychology, 43(3), 219-229. 10.1177/0095798416638189
Racial discrimination is a ubiquitous experience for Black adolescents; it has been linked to poorer psychological outcomes including higher depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem. However, the mechanisms through which racial discrimination is associated with psychological well-being are still not well understood, particularly among Black early adolescents. The current study investigated two dimensions of racial discrimination: racial discrimination frequency (RDfreq) and racial discrimination stress (RDstress). Specifically, we explored the prevalence of RDfreq and RDstress among Black youth and whether RDstress mediated the association between RDfreq and psychological well-being. Seventy-four Black middle school students (68.1% female; mean age = 12.1) completed self-report questionnaires assessing RDfreq, RDstress, depression, and self-esteem; 72 were included in the final analyses. Mediation analyses were conducted using bootstrapping. Ninety percent of the sample reported experiencing some type of racial discrimination and 99% reported that these experiences bothered them. Controlling for age, gender, and ethnicity, RDstress partially mediated the relationship between RDfreq and depression. Study findings elucidate one pathway in which racial discrimination influences psychological well-being.

Feelings Matter: Depression Severity and Emotion Regulation in HIV/STI Risk-Related Sexual Behaviors

Brawner, B. M., Sweet Jemmott, L., Wingood, G., Reason, J., Daly, B., Brooks, K., & Lanier, Y. (2017). Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26(6), 1635-1645. 10.1007/s10826-017-0674-z
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention models may not address psychological complexities among adolescents with mental illnesses. This study examined contextual factors related to HIV/STI risk among heterosexually active Black adolescents with mental illnesses to inform the development of targeted HIV/STI prevention strategies. Black adolescent males and females (aged 14–17) were recruited from outpatient mental health programs in Philadelphia, PA to complete a computer-assisted personalized interview on sociodemographics, sexual behaviors, and emotion regulation (N = 53). Two sample t-tests, Wilcoxon Rank Sum tests and regression modeling were used to examine differences in the study measures by gender and relationship status. Reports of sexual partner concurrency were high—both while already in a sexual relationship (67.3%) and multiple sexual partners in the same day (42.3%). Boys reported significantly more risk behaviors than girls. Sadness dysregulation predicted currently being in a relationship, older age at first oral sex, fewer vaginal sexual partners and fewer unprotected oral sexual encounters. Coping difficulties predicted a greater number of vaginal and oral sexual partners, and a lower age at first vaginal sex. Increasing depression severity was related to older age at first vaginal sex, fewer vaginal sexual partners and fewer unprotected oral sexual encounters in the past 3 months. This formative work suggests that coping mechanisms should be addressed in HIV/STI prevention research through the inclusion of activities targeted toward emotion regulation and decreasing sexual risk behaviors. Psycho-education and skills building may mitigate the psychopathology that contributes to HIV/STI risk in the target demographic.