MHEAL at Brown University School of Public Health

Mindfulness for Health Equity Lab

We are dedicated to research, education, and advocacy to promote health among marginalized, minority populations through stress-reduction mechanisms such as mindfulness.

Current Research Projects

Project STARS (Supporting Trans Affirmation, Relationships & Sex)

A peer counseling program for trans women and transfeminine adults. Our clinical trial enrolled those who have experienced abuse or violence in an intimate partnership, have had sex in the past 6 months, and whose HIV status is negative or unknown.

Enrollment for Summer 2023 has ended.

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Mindfulness-Based Queer Resilience (MBQR)

A 10-week intervention program designed to promote mental and sexual health tailored to LGBTQ+ people. Currently, we have a clinical trial with young adult gay men, bi men, queer men, and non-binary people who are assigned male at birth.

Enrollment for Summer 2023 has ended.

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The Trans-Led Care Study (TLC)

Developing a gender-affirming, wellness program based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (or "ACT") for transgender people of all identities who drink alcohol or use other drugs. In the coming months, we will be recruiting participants for the open pilot.

Enrollment for Summer 2023 has ended.

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Our Mission

This lab is dedicated to improving the health of historically marginalized communities, including sexual and gender minorities, racial minorities, and individuals from low-income backgrounds. Disproportionately, individuals of these communities experience more adversity and stress in life, including identity-based stress such as stigma, discrimination, and exclusion, resulting in poor health consequences.

Our work recognizes the resilience of marginalized individuals and communities. We aim to develop evidence-based mindfulness interventions to reduce stress that minority individuals face so often and improve mental and behavioral health.

Research Team

Shufang Sun, PhD

Lab Director

Don Operario, PhD


Arryn Guy, PhD


Vanessa Silva

Project Manager

Ty Scott, MPH

Research Assistant

Matthew Murphy

PhD Student

Claire Pisani

Medical Student

Chloe Chen

Research Assistant

Regan Gregory

MPH Student

Kenneth Kang

Research Assistant

Nick McCarthy-Belash

Research Assistant

Na Nguyen

Research Assistant


  • Yang, X., Sun, S., Zeng, C., Qiao, S., James, T., Brown, M., & Li, X. (2023). Associations between HIV disclosure and HIV care continuum outcomes among men who have sex with men living with HIV: systematic review and meta-analysis. AIDS Care.
  • Sun, S., Xu, S., *Guy, A., *Guigayoma, J., Zhang, Y., Operario, D., Chen, R. (2023). Analysis of psychiatric symptoms and suicide risk among young adults in China by gender identity and sexual orientation. JAMA Network Open, 6(3): e232294.
  • Goldberg, S. B., Torous, J., & Sun, S. (2022). Let’s decide what would be convincing, conduct randomized trials with rigorous comparison conditions, and report tests of moderation and publication bias in meta-analyses. PLOS Digital Health.
  • Sun, S., *Guy, A. A., *Zelaya, D. G., & Operario, D. (2022). Mindfulness for reducing minority stress and promoting health among sexual minority men: Uncovering intervention principles and techniques. Mindfulness. https://doi: 10.1007/s12671-022-01973-w
  • Operario, D., Sun, S., Bermudez, A. N., Masa, R., Shangani, S., van der Elst, E., & Sanders, E. (2022). Integrating HIV and mental health interventions to address a global syndemic among men who have sex with men. The Lancet HIV.
  • *Xu, G., *Wang, Budge, S. L, & Sun, S. (2022). “We don’t have a template to follow”: Sexual identity development and its facilitative factors among sexual minority men in the context of China. (in press). Journal of Counseling Psychology. Senior author, PI of research
  • Sun, S., Sheridan, M. A., Tyrka, A., Donofry, S. D., Erickson, K., & Loucks, E. B. (2022). Addressing the biological embedding of early life adversities (ELA) among adults through mindfulness: Proposed mechanisms and review of converging evidence. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.
  • Sun, S., Sun, X., Wei, C., Shi, L., Operario, D., Yan, H., Zaller, N., & Yang, C. (2022). Prevalence of domestic violence among men who have sex with men in China during the COVID-19 lockdown. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
  • Goldberg, S. B., Lam, S. U., Simonsson, O., Torous, J., & Sun, S. (2022). Mobile phone-based interventions for mental health: A systematic meta-review of 14 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. PLOS Digital Health.
  • Wang, Y., Feng, Y., Han, M., Duan, Z., Wilson, A., Sun, S., & Chen, R. (2021). Methods of attempted suicide and risk factors in LGBTQ+ youth. Child Abuse & Neglect.
  • Qiao, S., Sun, S., Tam, C. C., Li, X., Zhou, Y., & Shen, Z. (2021). Provider burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic in HIV clinics in Guangxi, China. (in press). Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care.
  • Donofry, S. D., Stillman, C. M., Hanson, J. L., Sheridan, M., Sun, S., Loucks, E., & Erickson, K. (2021). Promoting brain health through physical activity among adults exposed to early life adversity: Potential mechanisms and theoretical framework. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.
  • Kang, C., Sun, S., Yang, Z., Fan, X., Yuan, J., Xu, L., Wei, Y., Tong, H., & Yang, J. (2021). The psychological effect of internet-based mindfulness-based stress reduction on survivors of breast cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Psychiatry.
  • Wang, Y., Duan, Z., Wang, G., Wilson, A., Sun, S., Yang, Y., & Chen, R. (2021). Identifying subgroups of sexual minority adolescents at risk of suicidality using latent profile analysis. (in press). Preventive Medicine.
  • Lu, X., Pan, G., Wang, X., Xia, W., Zhao, X., He, Q., Zhang, H., Wang, J., Sun, Y., Liu, T., Sun, S., Yang, C., Zaller, N., Zhang, Z., & Operario, D. (2021). User preferences for a mHealth approach to support HIV self-testing and linkage to care services for MSM in China. (in press). AIDS Education and Prevention.
  • Whiteley, L., Craker, L., Sun, S., Tarantino, N., Hershkowitz, D., Moskowitz, J., Arnold, T., Haubrick, K., Olsen, E., Mena, L., & Brown, L. K. (2021). Factors associated with PrEP adherence among MSM in Jackson, Mississippi. Journal of HIV/AIDS & Social Services. Online First Publication.
  • Tarantino, N., Matthews, C., Sun, S., Orchowski, L., Harrison, A., Abrahams, N., Berkowitz, A., Akande, M., & Kuo, C. (2021). Unique and shared correlates of sexual violence perpetration and sexual risk behavior among South African adolescent boys. AIDS Education and Prevention.
  • *Nardi, W., Loucks, E., Springs, S., Operario, D., Kronish, I. M., Gaudiano, B., & Sun, S. (2021). Mindfulness-based interventions for medication adherence: A systematic review and narrative synthesis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 149, 110585. Senior author, PI of research.
  • Sun, S., *Nardi, W., Loucks, E., & Operario, D. (2021). Mindfulness-based interventions for sexual and gender minorities: A systematic review. Mindfulness. Online First Publication.
  • Sun, S., Goldberg, S. B., Loucks, E., & Brewer, J. A. (2021). Mindfulness-based interventions for people of color: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychotherapy Research. Online First Publication.
  • Sun, S., Lin, D., Goldberg, S., Shen, Z., Chen, P., Qiao, S., Brewer, J., Loucks, E., & Operario, D. (2021). A mindfulness-based mobile health (mHealth) intervention among psychologically distressed university students in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Counseling Psychology. Online First Publication.
  • Taylor, V., Moseley, I., Sun, S., Ludwig, V., Roy, A., Smith, R., & Brewer, J. A. (2021). Effects of a digitized therapeutic mindfulness intervention on craving-related eating outcomes and eating behavior reward valuation. Journal of Behavioral Addictions. Online First Publication.
  • Sun, S., Yang, C., Zaller, N., Zhang, Z., Zhang, H., & Operario, D. (2021). Willingness to use PrEP and adherence self-efficacy among men who have sex with men with recent condomless anal sex in urban China. AIDS & Behavior.
  • Sun, S., Lin, D., & Operario, D. (2021). Interests in COVID-19 vaccine trials among university students in China: Willingness, reasons for hesitancy, and demographic and psychosocial determinants. Preventive Medicine Reports.
  • Sun, S., Goldberg, S. B., Lin, D., Qiao, S., & Operario, D. (2021). Psychiatric symptoms, risk, and protective factors among university students in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic in China. Globalization and Health, 17, 15.
  • Goldberg, S. B., Riordan, K. M., Sun, S., & Davidson, R. (2021). The empirical status of mindfulness-based interventions: A systematic review of 44 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Online First Publication.
  • Qiao, S., Yang, X., Sun, S., Li, X., Mi, T., Zhou, Y., & Shen, Z. (2020). Challenges to HIV service delivery and the impacts on patient care during COVID-19: Perspectives of HIV care providers in Guangxi, China. AIDS Care
  • Mi, T., Yang, X., Sun, S., Li, X., Tam, C., Zhou, Y., & Shen, Z. (2020). Mental health problems of HIV healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic: The interactive effects of stressors and coping. AIDS and Behavior
  • Tam, C. C., Sun, S., Yang, X., Li, X., Zhou, Y., Shen, Z. (2020). Psychological distress among HIV providers during the COVID-19 pandemic in China: Mediating roles of institutional support and resilience. AIDS and Behavior
  • Sun, S., Hoyt, W. T., Tarantino, N., Pachankis, J. E., Whiteley, L., Operario, D., & Brown, L. K. (2020). Cultural context matters: Testing the minority stress model among Chinese sexual minority men. Journal of Counseling Psychology
  • Goldberg, S. B., Riordan, K. M, Sun, S., Kearney, D. J., & Simpson, T. L. (2020). Efficacy and acceptability of mindfulness-based interventions for military veterans: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. Online First Publication.
  • Arnold, T., G. Rogers, B., L. Norris, A., Schierberl Scherr, A., Haubrick, K., E. Renna, M., Sun, S., Danforth, M. M., Chu, C. T., Silva, E. S., Whiteley, L. B., & Pinkston, M. (2020). A brief transdiagnostic pandemic mental health maintenance intervention. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 1-21.
  • Sun, S., Hou, J., Chen, Y., Lu, Y., Brown, L. K., & Operario. (2020). Challenges to HIV care and psychological health during the COVID-19 pandemic among people living with HIV in China. AIDS & Behavior
  • Sun, S., Lin, D., & Operario, D. (2020). Need for a population health approach to understand and address psychosocial consequences of COVID-19. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
  • Si, P., Sun, S., Li, X., Chen, J., Xiong, Y., He, Y., Pachankis, J. E. (2020) A pilot cultural adaptation of LGB-affirmative CBT for young Chinese sexual minority men’s mental and sexual health. Psychotherapy
  • Sun, S., Pachankis, J. E., Li, X., & Operario, D. (2020). Addressing minority stress and mental health among Chinese men who have sex with men: A systematic review. Current HIV/AIDS Reports, 17, 35-62.
  • Sun, S., Hoyt, W. T., & Pachankis, J.E. (2020). Predicting sexual risk behaviors in the age of internet: The case of internet-using Chinese men who have sex with men (MSM). AIDS Care
  • Sun, S., Budge, S. L., Shen, W., Liu, M., Xu, G, & Feng, S. (2020). Minority stress and health: A qualitative investigation on the experiences of men who have sex with men in China and implications for health research and interventions. Social Science and Medicine, 252, 112917.
  • Sun, S., & Farber, E. (2020). An intersectionality-informed psychotherapy approach to reduce HIV stigma. Psychotherapy, 57(1), 23-28.
  • Sun, S., Crooks, DiClemente, R. J., & Sales, J. M. (2020). Perceived neighborhood violence and crime, emotion regulation, and PTSD symptoms among justice-involved African American girls. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(6), 593-598. PMID: 32237877
  • Sun, S., Pickover, A. M., Goldberg, S. B., Bhimji, J., Nguyen, J. K., Evans, A., Patterson, B, & Kaslow, N. K. (2019). For whom cognitively-based compassion training (CBCT) work? An analysis of predictors and moderators of intervention outcome among African American suicide attempters. Mindfulness, 10(11), 2327-2340.


LGBTQ+ Resources

Pride Counseling

This LGBT-affirming online counseling network is where students can sign up and be matched with an LGBT-affirming mental health provider for low-cost sessions.  They also have apps for android and iphone.


The National LGBT Help Center

Offers free and confidential peer support and local resource database:


Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project


Provides crisis intervention, support and resources for gay male survivors of domestic violence


Transgender Lifeline


Designed for members of the transgender community in crisis and staffed by transgender people.  Open 11 a.m. to 5 a.m. EST daily.


The Trevor Project


The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and 24/7 suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth.   The Trevor Project also offers other resources including the LGBT safe space social networking site, TrevorSpace.   There are trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat, or by texting START to 678-678.

Other Resources

Text “start” to 741-741 to initiate text-based counseling


National Domestic Violence Hotline


(The youth-oriented also links to this page, and you can also text LOVEIS to 22522 for help)


National Suicide Prevention Hotline


They also have chat services embedded directly in their website


Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network



Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service)