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E. Alison Holman - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

E. Alison Holman

Professor of Nursing | UC Irvine


E. Alison Holman studies the early post-event predictors of co-morbid trauma-related mental and physical health problems.






2019 Leider Lecture - E. Alison Holman Coping with cascading threats: A  study of responses to  COVID-19 | Alison Holman, PhD | UCI



E. Alison Holman's research focuses on understanding the early post-event predictors of comorbid trauma-related mental and physical health problems. She seeks to identify predictors of, contributions of, and interactions between acute responses to trauma (biological, cognitive, emotional, social, environmental, behavioral) that increase vulnerability to trauma-related health problems, especially cardiovascular disease. Toward this end, Holman examines gene-environment interactions and the roles of several biological systems in acute/posttraumatic stress response: renin-angiotensin-aldosterone, endocannabinoid, and oxytocin systems as well as hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis response. The ultimate goal is to identify targets for early interventions to prevent trauma-related morbidity and mortality.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Physical health

Acute Stress

Acute Stress & Cardiovascular Disease

Psychological Trauma

Media Exposure

Education (3)

U.C. Irvine: PhD, Health Psychology 1996

University of California, Santa Cruz: BA, Psychology 1989

San Francisco State University: BS, Nursing 1981

Affiliations (4)

  • International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
  • Association for Psychological Science
  • American Psychological Association, Divisions of Health Psychology and Trauma Psychology
  • California Association for Nurse Practitioners

Media Appearances (11)

25 years later, the trauma of the Columbine High School shooting is still with us

USA Today  online


Research on mass tragedies in the decades since has found the more time people spend watching this kind of news, the more likely they are to report high levels of acute stress, according to E. Alison Holman, a professor in the school of nursing and department of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine. This is particularly true when the images are graphic, Holman said. In a study on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Holman found consuming six or more hours a day of media coverage about the attack was associated with more acute stress symptoms than actually being at the site of the bombing.

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Stroke Mimics Tied to More PTSD Than Stroke

Medscape  online


Commenting on the findings, E. Alison Holman, PhD, professor, Department of Psychological Science, and Associate Dean Academic Personnel, Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, UC Irvine, Irvine, California, said she found the research "fascinating." … "This is an important issue that needs to be addressed," said Holman. "This is especially the case since the assessment of PTSD took place a month later, and a lot can happen in a month.”

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What does watching violence do to your mind? ‘Nothing good’: 5 tips for maintaining your mental health while following the news

CNBC Make it  online


Read judiciously, says Alison Holman, a professor of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine. Holman researches trauma and media exposure. “Identify sources of news that are reliable and trustworthy,” Holman says. “In other words, they provide actual news. What I recommend is you pick the top two, maybe three resources.” … “Put aside time in the day and say, ‘I’m going to spend 15 to 20 minutes reading about what’s going on so I know what’s happening,’” she says. … This isn’t about consuming less news, she adds. It’s about not consuming an excess.

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Mentoring is 'Miracle Gro for nurses' and 'key to future success'

Becker's Hospital Review  online


[The American Nurses Association] offers an eight-month mentoring program and a flash mentoring program that the association calls "speed mentoring." "This is flexible and short term where one nurse could connect with five different nurses in one week," Dr. Boston-Leary said. Becker's spoke with several nursing leaders, including one who likened mentoring to "Miracle Gro" for new nurses, especially those who spent more clinical training time in simulation labs than with real patients in the past few years. … Alison Holman, PhD, BSN. Professor at the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing at the University of California, Irvine: I think mentoring programs within hospital settings, especially, send a message to the nursing staff that lateral violence against other nurses is not acceptable. And that's a really important message. … If we want nurses to stay in the profession of nursing, we need people who will actually mentor them into their own growth and their own development. Mentoring helps new nurses to be the strongest nurses they can be.

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Depression risk rises after a stroke. What that means for John Fetterman.

The Washington Post  online


Sen. John Fetterman’s hospitalization for depression is most likely to be short and successful … A positive sign for Fetterman is his agreement that he needs inpatient care, said E. Alison Holman, a professor of nursing and psychological science at the University of California, Irvine. People in the grip of severe depression often lack that insight, she said. “The fact that he checked himself in is evidence that is not the case for him,” she said.

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Hurricane Ian Impact: The Unexpected Health Effects

Healthline  online


Anxiety and depression are often seen as hurricanes create “a lot of unknowns,” explained E. Alison Holman, PhD, professor of psychological science at the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, UC Irvine. “Any time there are those kinds of unknowns, it generates anxiety.”

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Trauma, time and mental health — new study unpacks pandemic phenomenon

The Washington Post  online


A new study says a majority of Americans experienced time distortions at the beginning of the pandemic, which are common during traumatic times. … “There are relatively new therapies that can be used to help people regain a more balanced sense of time,” E. Alison Holman, a professor of nursing at the University of California, Irvine and a co-author of the study, says in a news release. “But if we don’t know who is in need of those services, we can’t provide that support.”

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The effects that recent mass shootings have on the American psyche

KCBS Radio  online


This weekend there were eleven mass shootings in the U.S., thirteen if you include Friday. As gun violence continues to take an immeasurable toll on cities and communities across America with the physical toll comes a psychological one too. For more, KCBS Radio news anchors Melissa Culross and Jason Brooks spoke with Alison Holman, professor of psychological science and nursing at UC Irvine and co-author of a study on the effects of reading and watching coverage of tragic events.

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A trauma psychologist offers tips for NYC parents and kids trying to make sense of the subway shooting

WNYC  online


Gothamist collected audience questions from parents who are trying to make sense of their own emotions about the crisis while also fielding concerns from their kids. WNYC host Sean Carlson then posed those queries to Dr. Alison Holman, a professor at the University of California, Irvine’s Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing. She’s spent her career studying how traumatic events affect people differently depending on their life experiences and behavior.

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How Collective Trauma Affects Health Outcomes: Nurse Researcher Shares Insights

Daily Nurse  online


For 30 years, E. Alison Holman, Ph.D., professor of nursing at the University of California Irvine Bill and Sue Gross School of Nursing, has focused her research on collective trauma stemming from such climate-related disasters as wildfires and hurricanes, global events like the pandemic and wars, and other human-caused tragedies such as terrorist attacks, mass shootings and bombings. “I’ve always been interested in large-scale events,” she says. “As healthcare professionals, we need to understand how people’s mental health responses impact their physical health in the moment and long-term.”

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Watching footage from Ukraine? Here's how to protect your mental health.

Mashable  online


When I ask Dr. E. Alison Holman, a researcher at the University of California at Irvine who studies the physical and mental health effects of exposure to collective trauma, about what to make of being an observer of the Russian invasion, she immediately recommends curtailing news consumption. "My advice to anybody around this stuff is to titrate your doses of media," says Holman, who is a professor of nursing and psychological science at U.C. Irvine. "Figure out a good source of information that isn't full of lies and misinformation and get small doses to capture what it is that you need to understand about what is going on in the world, and then stop — don't continue." (Mashable's Christianna Silva compiled a list of reputable sources.)

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Research Grants (4)

Genetic variation, stress, and functional outcomes after stroke rehabilitation

National Institute of Nursing Research $2,718,925


A national longitudinal study of community trauma exposure

National Science Foundation $333,396


RAPID: Responding to Terror of a Different Kind: A National Study of the Ebola Epidemic

National Science Foundation $160,306

12/1/14 - 11/30/15

Susceptibility to Acute Stress and Cardiovascular Ailments: A Gene-Environment Analysis

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar Grant 


Articles (5)

Reported Worst Life Events and Media Exposure to Terrorism in a Nationally Representative U.S. Sample

Journal of Traumatic Stress

Rebecca R. Thompson, E. Alison Holman, Roxane Cohen Silver

2020 Indirectly experienced negative life events are not considered Criterion A traumatic events per DSM‐5 posttraumatic stress disorder diagnostic criteria, yet individuals indirectly exposed to trauma via the media may report these events as peak traumatic experiences. We studied which events people considered to be the “worst” in their lifetimes to gain a better understanding of the types of events individuals consider to be distressing.

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The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-2019) Outbreak: Amplification of Public Health Consequences by Media Exposure

Health Psychology

Dana Rose Garfin, Roxane Cohen Silver, E. Alison Holman

2020 The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-2019) has led to a serious outbreak of often severe respiratory disease, which originated in China and has quickly become a global pandemic, with far-reaching consequences that are unprecedented in the modern era. As public health officials seek to contain the virus and mitigate the deleterious effects on worldwide population health, a related threat has emerged: global media exposure to the crisis.

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Associations between exposure to childhood bullying and abuse and adulthood outcomes in a representative national U.S. sample

Child Abuse & Neglect

Josiah A Sweeting, Dana Rose Garfin, E Alison Holman, Roxane Cohen Silver

2020 Negative childhood experiences are associated with poor health and psychosocial outcomes throughout one’s lifespan.

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Exposure to prior negative life events and responses to the Boston marathon bombings.

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy

Garfin, Dana Rose; Holman, E. Alison; Silver, Roxane Cohen

2020 Objective: The objective of the study was to explore how type and timing of prior negative life experiences (NLEs) may be linked to responses to subsequent collective trauma, such as a terrorist attack. Method: Using a longitudinal design, we examined relationships between prior NLEs and responses to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings (BMB).

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Media Exposure to Collective Trauma, Mental Health, and Functioning: Does It Matter What You See?

Clinical Psychological Science

E. Alison Holman, Dana Rose Garfin, Pauline Lubens, Roxane Cohen Silver

2019 Media exposure to collective trauma is associated with acute stress (AS) and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS). Qualities of media exposure (e.g., amount, graphic features) contributing to this distress are poorly understood. A representative national sample (with New York and Boston oversamples; N = 4,675) completed anonymous, online surveys 2 to 4 weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings (BMB; Wave 1, or W1) and again 6 months later (Wave 2, or W2; N = 3,598).

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