RESEARCH PROJECTS

Mi Guia (My Guide) pilot study: An e-Health Intervention to Improve Symptom Burden and Health-Related Quality of Life among Hispanic Women Completing Active Treatment for Breast Cancer

(2017-2020)

Project Summary: 

This study aims to create and evaluate Mi Guía (My Guide), a culturally informed eHealth psychoeducational and psychosocial intervention for English or Spanish-speaking Hispanic women completing active treatment for breast cancer. Mi Guía is grounded in evidence-based paradigms to improve cancer-related symptom burden and health-related quality of life. In the first phase of the project, we created Mi Guía and refined the intervention using usability and feasibility testing. In the second phase of the project, we are currently testing the initial efficacy of Mi Guía compared to a health education control on cancer-related symptom burden and health-related quality of life outcomes.

(2017-2018)

Psychosocial stressors and physical health symptoms predicting health behaviors among undergraduate students  

Project Summary: 

This project seeks to examine relationships between daily hassles, daily physical health complaints, and involvement in certain health risk behaviors (e.g., substance use) or health promotion behaviors (e.g., sleep, dietary intake) among undergraduate students at DePaul University.  We are also interested in determining whether these daily hassles or daily physical health complaints are still important influences on health behaviors even after factoring in the role of certain demographic factors, physical health challenges, and psychological problems.  Attention to the undergraduate population is important since young adulthood (the developmental period in which college students fall) is a time in which health risk and health promotion behaviors are still malleable.  Thus, understanding factors that influence health promotion and health risk behaviors during this developmental period is the first step in development of interventions to enhance young adult health in the short and long term.

(2018-2019)

Identifying Predictors of National School Lunch Program Participation in Chicago Public High Schools

Project Summary: 

Since the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2012, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) have provided healthy options for youth during school hours. Participation in these programs has been shown to both reduce food insecurity and increase healthful eating among children and adolescents, but families may choose not to participate. High school student rates of participation in school meal programs are particularly low. Therefore, it is essential to understand the predictors of NSLP and SBP participation for high school students from the perspectives of both students and parents. It is also important to assess communication preferences regarding school meals to increase participation. Therefore, the current study addresses three main research questions: 1) What factors influence high school students’ participation in the NSLP and SBP?; 2) What are common student and caregiver health behaviors and beliefs and how might those behaviors or beliefs undermine or amplify the benefits of school meals?; and 3) How do caregivers and youth prefer to be communicated about schools meals? To answer these questions, 80 student-caregiver dyads will be recruited from five Chicago Public High Schools to engage in focus groups or interviews on the topic of school meals as well as complete supplementary questionnaires about their health behaviors and beliefs. Focus groups and interviews will be coded for overall themes. Results from the current study will be used to inform future studies aimed at promoting increased school meal participation, and will inform the development and assessment of a digital communication tool encouraging meal participation and healthful eating among Chicago High School students.

(2017-2018)

The Role of Food Reinforcement in the Efficacy of a “Smarter Lunchroom” Intervention

Project Summary: 

Childhood obesity is a public health concern, particularly among African-American and Latino children. Children consume much of their daily caloric intake at schools. Since the implementation of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act in 2012, the National School Lunch Program has provided healthy food options for children during school hours. To increase the selection and consumption of these healthy foods, research has found that small and inexpensive environmental changes can help to make selecting fruits and vegetables accessible, attractive, and normative, which results in increased consumption of these items. Examples of these changes include 1) giving healthy foods fun names, 2) placing healthy items in front of the food line, and 3) displaying fresh fruit in attractive bowls. Although these environmental interventions have been found to increase healthy eating among elementary school children, no studies to date have investigated effect modifiers or mechanisms of dietary change. The current study aims to determine whether baseline food reinforcement and delay discounting levels predict responsiveness to a SL intervention. Eighty-eight elementary school children (grades 1-4) were be recruited from a Chicago Public School during the 2017-2018 school year. We are currently analyzing our data from this study.

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