College of Nursing

Sterling McPherson

Sterling McPherson

Assistant Professor
Sterling McPherson
Assistant Professor
(509) 324-7459
(509) 324-7341
WSU College of Nursing
PO Box 1495
Spokane, WA 99210-1495

Sterling McPherson is an Assistant Professor at Washington State University College of Nursing and is affiliated with the Departments of Psychology and Health Policy and Administration. His doctoral training specialized in quantitative analytic methods and he completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse in 2010. He is also part of the Program of Excellence in the Addictions, the Program of Excellence in Rural Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment, and the Translation Addictions Research Center. Dr. McPherson is also the Program Director for the Behavioral Health Collaborative for Rural American Indian Communities (BHCRAIC; Co-PIs, Roll & Buchwald) and is Co-Leader of the BHCRAIC Research Methods Core. He is also a Co-Investigator for the Pacific Northwest Node of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN: Co-PIs, Donovan and Roll) and is part of the CTN Design and Analysis sub-group. He is also the PI on two biostatistical investigating innovative application of modern missing data methodologies (i.e., selection and pattern-mixture modeling) and longitudinal methods of analysis to substance use disorder clinical trial data. In addition, Sterling is the PI on projects focused on human behavioral pharmacology and novel behavioral and pharmacological treatments for substance use disorders. His work has been funded by NIH, NSF, CDC, DOJ, WA Attorney General’s Office, Center for Advancing Longitudinal Drug Abuse Research, Life Sciences Discovery Fund, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program, and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow (Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse), Washington State University, Spokane, WA
  • PhD in Experimental Psychology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
  • MS in Experimental Psychology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
  • BA in Psychology, Whitworth University, Spokane, WA
  • BA in Sociology, Whitworth University, Spokane, WA


1) Development of evidence-based substance use disorder treatments, 2) Innovative analytical methods to answer novel research questions in psychopharmacology and substance abuse, and 3) Substance use disorders as a complicating co-morbidity.


  • Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse (APA Division 28), 2012-present
  • Addictions (APA Division 50), 2012 - present
  • Design and Analysis Special Interest Group, National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network, 2012-present
  • Evaluation, Measurement, Statistics (APA Division 5), 2010-present


  • Associated Students of Washington State University Spokane, Student’s Choice Award for Faculty Excellence, 2012
  • Early Career Travel Award, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and the American Psychological Association (APA) Divisions 28 (Psychopharmacology and Drug Abuse) and 50 (Addictions), 2012
  • Graduate Student Excellence Award, awarded by the Department of Psychology at Washington State University


Murphy, S. M., McPherson, S., & Robinson, K. (in press). Nonmedical prescription opioid use and violent behavior among adolescents: Prescribed and diverted opioids compared to other substances of abuse. Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

Barbosa-Leiker, C., McPherson, S., Mamey, M. R., Burns, G. L., & Roll, J. (in press). Measurement invariance of the Adjective Rating Scale for Withdrawal across treatment groups, gender, and over time. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

McDonell, M., McPherson, S., Vilardaga, R., Srebnik, D., Angelo, F., Leickly, E., Roll, J., & Reis, R. (in press). Preliminary findings: The effect of contingency management for psycho-stimulant use on smoking abstinence in a sample of adults with severe mental illness. The American Journal on Addictions.

McPherson, S., Barbosa-Leiker, C., McDonell, M., Howell, D., & Roll, J. (2013). Longitudinal missing data strategies for substance use clinical trials using generalized estimating equations: An example with a buprenorphine/naloxone trial. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 28, 506-515.

Barbosa-Leiker, C., Ferent, V., McPherson, S., Lei, M., Wright, B. R., Hoekstra, T., Kostick, M. (2013). Cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between perceived stress and C-reactive protein. Stress and Health.

Barbosa-Leiker, C., McPherson, S., Cameron, J., Jathar, R., & Roll, J. (in press). Depression as a mediator in the longitudinal relationship between psychological stress and alcohol use. Journal of Substance Use.

Roll, J. M., Chudzynski, J., Cameron, J., Howell, D., & McPherson, S. (2013). Duration effects in contingency management treatment of methamphetamine disorders. Addictive Behaviors, 38, 2455-2462.

Purath, J., Keller, C., McPherson, S., & Ainsworth, B. (2013). A clinic-based physical activity and physical fitness intervention for community-dwelling older adults. Geriatric Nursing, 34, 204-211.


McPherson, S., Packer, R., Cameron, J., Howell, D. & Roll, J. (2013). Biochemical predictors are better than self-report in a smoking cessation contingency management analog study. The American Journal on Addictions.

Barbosa-Leiker, C., Kostick, M., Lei, M., McPherson, S., Ferent, V., Hoekstra, T., & Wright, B. R. (2013). Measurement invariance of the perceived stress scale and latent mean differences across gender and time. Stress and Health, 29, 253-260.

McDonell, M. G., Srebnik, D., Angelo, F., McPherson, S., Lowe, J. Sugar, A., Coblentz, P., Short, R., Roll, J. M., & Reis, R. K. (2013). A randomized controlled trial of contingency management for psycho-stimulant use in community health outpatients with co-occurring serious mental illness. American Journal of Psychiatry, 170, 94-101.

McPherson, S., & Barbosa-Leiker, C. (2012). An example of a two-part latent growth curve model for semicontinuous outcomes in the health sciences. Journal of Applied Statistics, 39, 2113-2128.

McPherson, S., Barbosa-Leiker, C., & Short, R. & Tuttle, K. R. (2012). Classification of chronic kidney disease biomarkers to predict coronary artery calcium. Kidney and Blood Pressure Research, 36, 26-35.

Packer, R., Howell, D. N., McPherson, S., & Roll, J. M. (2012). Investigating reinforcer magnitude and reinforce delay: A contingency management analog study. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 20, 287-292.

Roll, J., Newton, T., Chudzynski, J., Cameron, J., McPherson, S., Fong, T., & Torrington, M. (2012). Preference for gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) in current users. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 97, 323-331.

McPherson, S., Barbosa-Leiker, C., Burns, G. L., Howell, D., & Roll, J. (2012). Missing data in substance abuse treatment research: Current methods and new approaches. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 20, 243-250.

McDonell, M. G., Howell, D., McPherson, S., Srebnik, D., Cameron, J., Roll, J. M., & Reis, R. (2012). Voucher-based reinforcement for alcohol abstinence using the ethyl-glucuronide biomarker. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 45, 161-165.

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