Research

Faculty members in BSS conduct research at the individual, family, organization, community, population, and policy levels, including:

  • Basic research to elucidate cognitive, affective, and genetic variables that influence health behavior
  • Survey and qualitative research into the social and behavioral determinants of health
  • Intervention studies for prevention and treatment of health problems
  • Translational, dissemination, and policy research to address health behaviors in diverse communities. 

Total research funding for BSS faculty in 2009, 2010, and 2011 was $11,139,785, $12,469,460, and $12,135,647, respectively. BSS research, and BSS faculty expertise, generally falls into the following five broad categories.

Research Areas

Alcohol and Other Drug Use

Many BSS faculty members study the causes, consequences, and interventions
for substance use problems. Treatment outcome studies for alcohol and addiction problems characterized much of the earlier work among many of our faculty and while this underlying theme still exists, expertise has been developed in the related areas of assessment; co-use of alcohol and tobacco; substance use among college students; mechanisms of behavior change; mediators and moderators of treatment outcomes; and the process of implementing behavior change counseling. 

Smoking

BSS faculty conduct a range of research to understand the uptake of smoking in adolescence, the mechanisms related to dependence on tobacco, and the treatment of tobacco dependence.  This research has a particular focus on multiple behavior change (e.g., alcohol and smoking; exercise and smoking) and on addressing factors associated with high risk for smoking relapse, such as co-occurring substance use disorders and high levels of negative affect.  Smoking cessation treatments studied include both pharmacotherapies and novel behavioral interventions.

Obesity, Nutrition, and Physical Activity

Other BSS faculty members focus on the research areas of  Obesity, Nutrition,
and Physical Activity. Much of this work involves community-based interventions, particularly for ethnic minority populations.  Of particular
emphasis has been work on initiation, adoption, and maintenance of health behavior change, and the role of affect and cognition in health behavior and exercise promotion.  Health behavior theory testing and development and stages of change for behavior adoption are also areas of expertise.

HIV / STIs

Another emerging area of expertise among BSS faculty is HIV prevention in
high risk communities and the interaction of HIV/AIDS, alcohol, substance use, and
mental health. Members of the BSS faculty have recently been awarded an NIH Center Grant to examine synergies of alcohol and HIV/AIDS at the biological, neurological, and behavioral levels. 

Health Disparities and Culture

A primary aim of many BSS faculty members is to understand and eliminate disparities in health and healthcare outcomes affecting diverse populations.  As
a result, many BSS faculty members direct their research
 efforts toward understanding and addressing the social, cultural, and environmental factors contributing to these health disparities.  Faculty members do this by implementing interdisciplinary, community-based, quantitative and qualitative research methods. BSS faculty aim to prevent, reduce, and eliminate health disparities within the following special emphasis areas and determinants: HIV/STIs; mental health; obesity, nutrition, and physical activity; and, alcohol and other drug use.