Nichea Spillane

  • Associate Professor
  • Department of Psychology; Clinical Psychology
  • Phone: 401.874.4252
  • Email:
  • Website
  • Accepting Students: Ph.D.


PLEASE NOTE: Dr. Spillane will be accepting new graduate students for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Dr. Spillane is an associate professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Rhode Island. Prior to joining the faculty at URI, she was an Assistant Professor at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University (BSS). She continues to hold an Adjunct Professor position in BSS at Brown. She also serves on the National Institute of Drug Abuse postdoctoral training committee at CAAS.


Dr. Spillane’s research interests focuses broadly on substance use with a major focus on underserved populations and health disparities. Her work has focused on Indigenous populations in North America, including American Indians in the United States and First Nations in Canada. Currently, she is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to examine alternative activities to substance use in a First Nation population. This work will help inform the development and/or adaptation of treatment and prevention programs to reduce the harm associated with substance use in Native communities.

Dr. Spillane also has interest in applying positive psychology to addictive behaviors. She has been involved in adapting positive psychology to smoking cessation and is eager to extend this work to other addictive behaviors.


  • 2008-2010 Postdoctoral Fellow, Brown University, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies
  • 2008 Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, University of Kentucky
  • 2008 Brown Medical School Clinical Psychology Training Consortium
  • 2003 M.S. Clinical Psychology, University of Kentucky
  • 2001 B.A. Psychology, Eastern Connecticut State University

Selected Publications

Substance Use and Underserved Populations

Spillane, N.S., Greenfield, B., Venner, K., Kahler, C.W. (2015). Alcohol use among reserve-dwelling adult First Nation members: Use, problems, and intention to change drinking behavior. Addictive Behaviors, 41, 232-237.

Spillane, N. S., Smith, G. T., & Kahler, C. W. (2013). Perceived access to reinforcers as a function of alcohol consumption among one First Nation group. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37, E314-E321.

Spillane, N. S., Muller, C., Goins, R. T., Mitchell, C., & Manson, S. (2012). Sensation-seeking correlates with incident daily smoking in American Indian high school students. Addictive Behaviors, 37, 1303-1306.

Spillane, N.S., Cyders, M.A., & Maurelli, K. (2012). Negative urgency, problem drinking, and negative alcohol expectancies among members from one First Nation: A moderated-meditational model. Addictive Behaviors, 37, 1285-1288.

Spillane, N. S., & Smith, G. T. (2010). Individual differences in problem drinking among tribal members in one First Nation community. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Psychology, 34, 1985-1992.

Spillane, N. S., & Smith, G. T. (2007). A theory of reservation-dwelling American Indian alcohol use risk. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 395-418.

Spillane, N. S., Smith, G. T., & Fischer, S. (2007). Advancing behavioral ecological theories of problem drinking by considering reservation dwelling American Indians. In F. Columbus (Ed.), Trends in Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Research. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Positive Psychology and Addictive Behaviors

Kahler, C.W., Spillane, N.S., Day, A., Cioe, P.A., Parks, A., Leventhal, A.M., & Brown, R.A. (2015). Positive psychotherapy for smoking cessation: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 17, 1385-1392.

Kahler, C. W., Spillane, N. S., Day, A. M., Clerkin, E., Parks, A., Leventhal, A. M., Brown. R. A. (2014). Positive psychology for smoking cessation: Treatment development, feasibility, and preliminary results, Journal of Positive Psychology, 9, 19-29.

Parks, A. C., Kleiman, E. M., Kashdan, T. B., Hausmann, L. R. M., Meyer, P. S., Day, A. M., Spillane, N. S., Kahler, C. W. (2015). Positive psychotherapeutic and behavioral interventions. In Dilip V. Jeste, & Barton W. Palmer (Eds.), Positive Psychiatry: A Clinical Handbook. Virginia: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Honors and Awards

  • Role Principal Investigator, “Contextual risk factors for substance use in adolescent Reservation-dwelling American Indians” - National Institute on Drug Abuse, K08 DA029094, (2010-2017)
  • Co-investigator, PI on Subcontract, “Positive psychotherapy for smoking cessation enhanced with text messaging: A randomized controlled trial” - National Cancer Institute, R01 CA201262, (2016-2021). Principal Investigator: Christopher Kahler, Brown University.

More Information

Download Curriculum Vitae (PDF)