Mairead Eastin Moloney

  • Assistant Professor of Sociology
  • Health, Society and Populations
  • Sociology
1527 Patterson Office Tower
Research Interests:

I received a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009. Subsequently, I held postdoctoral fellowships in both research (2009-2011, Program on Integrative Medicine in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and teaching (2011-2013, Department of Sociology at North Carolina State University).

In 2014, I joined the University of Kentucky as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. I also serve as faculty for the Department of Gender and Women's Studies, and for the Health, Society, and Populations major in the College of Arts and Sciences.


My overarching career goal is to become an independent investigator of insomnia and sedative hypnotic use among the health disparities population of Appalachian women. I aim to better understand how insomnia and sedative hypnotic use leads to disparities in health generally and neurocognitive function specifically, and to implement efficacious, culturally acceptable interventions to prevent these disparities. My short-term goal is the successful execution of my current pilot project, “Evaluating Online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Reduce Stress, Insomnia, and Sedative Hypnotic Use in Appalachian Women Ages 45+.” I am piloting a well-validated online program (SHUTi - Sleep Healthy Using the Internet) to determine its feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy in reducing sedative hypnotic use and improving stress and sleep among Appalachian women ages 45+. Post-intervention, I will analyze findings and solicit participant intervention feedback. These findings will be leveraged for an R01 application in support of a refined, larger-scale intervention that incorporates biometric data collection.

I receive support for this project through my two-year appointment as a Scholar in the NIH-funded Building Interdisciplinary Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program and through my "Igniting Research Collaborations" Pilot Grant, awarded through the UK College of Pharmacy.

Here is a link to a video where I describe my pilot project:

My previous research makes me extremely well-poised to carry out my sleep-focused research agenda. My dissertation used sequential triangulation to quantitatively and qualitatively explore sleeplessness-related trends in the U.S. Analyzing nationally representative data from physician office visits (1993-2007) I found that complaint of sleeplessness, diagnosis of insomnia, and prescription of sedative hypnotics increased significantly over time (1993-2007) - particularly in adults ages 45-64. However, prescriptions of sedative hypnotics far outpaced complaints and diagnoses. This gap is suggestive of medicalization – the process whereby life problems (e.g., stress) are transformed into diagnostic entities (e.g., insomnia) and treated with primarily pharmacologic solutions (e.g., sedative hypnotics). I published these results in in the American Journal of Public Health in 2011. This article has been cited more than 70 times.

To add depth and context to my quantitative work, I conducted in-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews with 27 patients prescribed sedative hypnotics, and the 8 physicians who treated them. Patients and physicians openly acknowledged they were treating normal life issues (primarily stress, grief, and aging) with the medical solution of sedative hypnotics. Middle-aged and older women emphasized gendered stressors like multiple caregiving responsibilities as the cause of their insomnia. Men emphasized work stressors. Both patients and physicians expressed reluctance toward the use of sedative hypnotics, citing addiction fears. These findings were published in Sociology of Health and Illness in 2017. Here is a link to my video abstract for the Sociology of Health and Illness piece:

I am also interested in how various forms of gender socialization impact mental and physical health. I have studied sexualization, a particularly negative form of gender socialization, and created a relevant pedagogical module for undergraduates. An article on this module was published in Teaching Sociology. This work has both theoretical and practical applications for social scientists, educators, and community leaders, and led to an interview on Kentucky Educational Television. Here is a link to the episode preview:

I have continued to explore the sexualization and oppressions of women in the context of online social spaces. With my colleague Tony Love, I analyzed publicly available data from Twitter (an online social networking service) to track real-time reactions to the widely publicized celebrity nude photo hacking of 2014 (“The Fappening”). Findings from nearly 10,000 Tweets revealed that male-identified Tweeters commonly sexualized and degraded both celebrity and non-celebrity women. The results of our study were published in Men and Masculinities​. A piece on our unique methodology was recently published SAGE Research Methods Cases. We also have a forthcoming article in Sociology Compass that assesses concepts of online misogyny from the perspectives of sociology and feminist media studies. Here is a link to the video abstract:

Recently, I have joined forces with  Robyn Lewis Brown, Jordan Brown, and Gabriele Ciciurkaite to qualitatively and quantitatively analyze the experiences of working women and college students with disabilities. Our work highlights factors of race, age and - in particular - gender as they intersect with and inform the disability experience. We have published our work in Deviant Behavior, Research in Social Science and Disability, and Journal of Community Psychology.



Professional Achievements and Honors

As a graduate student, I was awarded two competitive, pre-doctoral fellowships. My fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. My fellowship in the Carolina Program in Health and Aging Research was funded by the National Institute on Aging. I was also awarded the Beth B. Hess Memorial Scholarship. This award uniquely recognizes Sociology PhD students who begin their careers in community or technical colleges and are committed to research and teaching focused on gender and/or aging.

Since coming to the University of Kentucky, I was selected as a Scholar in the NIH Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health [BIRCWH] program. The BIRCWH program supports early stage faculty who demonstrate exceptional potential for a career in women’s health research. It provides 75% protected time, a financial allotment for research, strong mentorship, and exceptional peer support.

Selected Publications: 
Moloney, Mairead E. and Tony P. Love. (Forthcoming.) “Assessing Online Misogyny: Perspectives from Sociology and Feminist Media Studies.” Sociology Compass.
Moloney, Mairead E., Robyn Lewis Brown, Gabriele Ciciurkaite, and Susan Foley. 2018. “‘Going the Extra Mile’: Experiences of Stigma Management among Working Women with Disabilities.” Deviant Behavior. DOI: 10.1080/01639625.2018.1445445
Love, Tony P., Mairead E. Moloney, and Amanda M. Bunting.* 2018. “Analyzing Virtual Manhood: Qualitative Analysis of Fappening-Related Twitter Data.” SAGE
Research Methods Cases. DOI: 10.4135/9781526429797
Brown, Robyn Lewis, Mairead E. Moloney, and Jordan Brown. 2018. “Gender Differences in the Processes Linking Public Stigma and Self-Disclosure among College Students with Mental Illness." Journal of Community Psychology 46(2):202-212.
Brown, Robyn Lewis, Mairead E. Moloney, and Gabriele Ciciurkaite. 2017. “People with Physical Disabilities, Work, and Well-Being: The Importance of Autonomous and Creative Work.” Pp. 205-24 in Research in Social Science and Disability. Vol. 10, Factors in Studying Employment for Persons with Disability: How the Picture Can Change, edited by B.M. Altman. United Kingdom: Emerald Publishing.
Moloney, Mairead E., and Tony P. Love. 2017. “#TheFappening: Virtual Manhood Acts in (Homo)Social Media.” Men and Masculinities. DOI: 10.1177/1097184X17696170
Reprinted as: Moloney, Mairead E., and Tony P. Love. 2017. “#TheFappening: Virtual Manhood Acts in (Homo)Social Media.” Chapter 10 in Unmasking Masculinities: Men and Society, edited by E. W. Morris, and F.B. Oeur. Los Angeles: Sage.
Moloney, Mairead E. 2017. “’Sometimes, it’s Easier to Write the Prescription’: Physician and Patient Accounts of the Reluctant Medicalisation of Sleeplessness.” Sociology of Health
and Illness 39(3):333-348.
Moloney, Mairead E. 2016. "Bitten: A Patient with Tickborne Disease Struggles to Find the Right Provider." Health Affairs 35(1):169-173.
Moloney, Mairead E., and Lisa J. Pelehach.* 2014. “’You’re Not Good Enough’: Teaching Undergraduate Students about the Sexualization of Girls and Women.” Teaching Sociology 42(2):119-129.
Moloney, Mairead E., Thomas R. Konrad, and Catherine R. Zimmer. 2011. “The Medicalization of Sleeplessness: A Public Health Concern.” American Journal of Public Health 101(8):1429-1433.
Bussey-Jones, Jada, Joanne Garret, Gail Henderson, Mairead E. Moloney, Connie Blumenthal, and Giselle Corbie-Smith. 2010. “The Role of Race and Trust in Tissue/Blood Donation for Genetic Research.” Genetics in Medicine 12(2):116-121.
Bussey-Jones, Jada, Gail Henderson, Joanne Garret, Mairead E. Moloney, Connie Blumenthal, and Giselle Corbie-Smith. 2009. “Asking the Right Questions: Views on Genetic Variation Research Among Participants in a Colorectal Cancer Genetic Epidemiology Study.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 24(3):299-304.
Corbie-Smith, Giselle, Connie Blumenthal, Gail Henderson, Joanne Garrett, Jada Bussey-Jones, Mairead E. Moloney, Robert S. Sandler, Stacey W. Lloyd, Jessica Dorrance, and Jane
Darter. 2008. “Studying Genetic Research Participants: Lessons from the ‘Learning About Research in North Carolina’ Study.” Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 17(8):2019-2024.
Henderson, Gail, Joanne Garrett, Jada Bussey-Jones, Mairead E. Moloney, Connie Blumenthal, and Giselle Corbie-Smith. 2008. “Great Expectations: Views of Genetic Research Participants Regarding Current and Future Studies.” Genetics in Medicine 10(3):193-200.
Kurzman, Charles, Chelise Anderson, Clinton Key, Youn Ok Lee, Mairead Moloney, Alexis Silver, Maria Van Ryn. 2007. “Celebrity Status.” Sociological Theory 25(4):347-67.
Schuster, Jennifer L., Jaimie Ciulla Timmons, Mairead Moloney. 2003. “Barriers to Successful Transition for Young Adults Who Receive SSI and Their Families.” Career Development
for Exceptional Individuals 26:47-66.
Whitney-Thomas, Jean, and Mairead Moloney. 2001. “’Who I Am And What I Want’: Adolescents’ Self-Definition and Struggles.” Exceptional Children 67(3):375-389.


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