Dr. Riggs' research focuses on two somewhat distinct areas. Much of his work and that of his students examines the impact of military-related stress on military personnel, veterans, and their families. Although some of this research continues Dr. Riggs’ interest in trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), additional research projects conducted by students address issues related to the stress of military deployments and the military lifestyle more generally. Topics of research include problematic sleep and nightmares, family and relationship adjustment to military deployments, parenting in military families, the interplay of PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI), and stress as it relates to substance-use issues among military personnel.

In collaboration with colleagues at the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP), Dr. Riggs and his students are also involved in research focused on the dissemination of information about deployment stress and implementation of treatments for stress-related disorders to behavioral health providers. One key aspect of this research is the development and testing of a strategy for increasing the implementation of evidence-based psychotherapies in military treatment facilities. This work also includes research into the effectiveness of online training modalities as compared to traditional face-to-face workshops and the use of standardized patients in the training of clinical skills. In addition, the CDP is active in the development of interactive online learning experiences for behavioral health providers and Dr. Riggs students are able to participate in this work.



of military service members struggle with PTSD


of military spouses can be diagnosed with at least one psychiatric disorder


military personnel have served on 5.4 million deployments between September 11, 2001 and September 2015


of deployers are married and about one-half had children at the time they deployed


Most of the military stress research conducted in Dr. Riggs’ lab is student generated and reflects the interests of individual students. Research approaches reflect these interests and attempt to capitalize on available resources.

Approaches have included:

  • the development and deployment of online assessments
  • analysis of existing clinical data sets (in collaboration with researchers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center)
  • collection of data from ongoing clinical trials (with collaborators from USU Department of Psychiatry)
  • analysis of large scale population-based survey data (with collaborators from the Millennium Cohort Study
  • analysis of large scale health services data (with collaborators from USU Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics)

Research in collaboration with the Center for Deployment Psychology has historically focused on program evaluation and process improvement data collected as a standard portion of the Center’s activities. The ongoing study of implementation strategies represents an initial foray into the world of implementation science and involves a large-scale multi-center trial of clinic-level interventions.