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(2022-     )

Testing a Multi-behavioral Intervention to Improve Oral Health Behaviors in the Pediatric Dental Surgery Population: PROTECT 
NIDCR Funded: 5UG3DE032003-02

Project Summary: 

Minoritized children are at risk for severe early childhood caries, which are often treated with dental surgery under general anesthesia (DGA). DGA does not address underlying oral health behaviors that can prevent future disease recurrence, and no research to date has developed a multi-behavioral parenting intervention for this population. The current study aims to develop and test the initial efficacy of PROTECT(Preventing Recurrent Operations Targeting Early Childhood Caries Treatment),a 6-month, community health worker-delivered, behavioral parenting intervention for a minoritized, preschool-aged, pediatric dental surgical population targeting tooth brushing frequency and consumption of added sugars. Dr. Buscemi serves as Co-PI on this project along with Dr. Helen Lee at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

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A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Experiences, Symptoms, and Health Behaviors of Patients with or Exposed to COVID-19 in Chicago's Underserved Neighborhoods

Project Summary: 

COVID-19 is a worldwide pandemic that is disproportionately affecting people of color across the U.S. and in Chicago. We partnered with Brothers Health Collective, a community-based health clinic in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, to assess the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. One-hundred and nine adults completed a survey assessing COVID-19 impact, medical mistrust and health care discrimination, experiences with contact tracers, vaccine hesitancy, and pandemic-related health behavior changes. Our data set provides opportunities for the exploration of various research questions and our partnership with Brothers Health Collective allows us to report this data directly back to the community to develop interventions to better support communities of color during this public health crisis. 


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

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 caregivers. 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. 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.


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

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 tested the initial efficacy of Mi Guía compared to a health education control on cancer-related symptom burden and health-related quality of life outcomes. We are now conducting a follow-up study to test the efficacy of the intervention in patients undergoing active treatment.


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 promoting 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 emerging adulthood 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. We have completed data collection for the original study, but are now collecting follow-up data from these participants at 3 time points over the course of one year.


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 an environmental lunchroom intervention. Eighty-eight elementary school children (grades 1-4) were recruited from a Chicago Public School during the 2017-2018 school year. 

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