Various completed and ongoing studies have utilized a range of innovative approaches for collecting real-time data from subjects throughout their day-to-day lives. Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and intervention (EMI) techniques, daily diary surveying, ambulatory monitoring of physiology and activity, and ambient environmental parameter assessment are all methods that have been (and continue to be) employed. These methodologies allow for the dynamic study of a wide-range of psychological, behavioral, physiological, and environmental experiences as they occur within natural settings.
This project, led by Dr. Joshua Smyth, Dr. Martin Sliwinski, and Dr. David Almeida, explores the temporal dynamics and components of stress responses in everyday life. Using a mixture of methods, including secondary data analysis and smartphone based EMA data capture, we are defining and testing optimal stress response targets that are drivers of important health behaviors (sleep, physical activity). The second stage of this project will develop just-in-time, ideographically tailored intervention approaches targeting these stress components to improve health behaviors in daily life. This line of work is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) Common Fund through the Science of Behavior Change program.
We have a series of studies, both completed and ongoing, exploring the impact of expressive writing on health and well-being outcomes. Several clinical trials of expressive writing in patient samples are under analysis, and have been supported by the NIH.
In collaboration with Dr. James Pennebaker, we recently published a book on the topic, Opening Up by Writing It Down 3rd Ed. Throughout its pages, expressive writing is introduced to the reader as a simple, yet powerful self-help technique that can assist individuals in easing troublesome emotions and improving physical and mental well-being. This edition of the book also presents findings and new information from recent scientific literature concerning the topic.
In a series of projects, we are examining different population groups’ preferences for engaging with mobile health (mHealth) interventions. Through a priori assessment of end-user characteristics (e.g., acceptability, salience of intervention needs), the goal of this work, led by Frank Materia, is to facilitate the development of evidence-informed mHealth implementation decisions for use in both clinical and community settings.
This study will use an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) paradigm to measure and quantify the naturalistic experience of follow-up cancer screening appointments in a sample of colorectal cancer survivors. It aims to characterize and understand psychological, social, and behavioral processes in the days leading up to a scheduled screening appointment. It will also examine how individual differences in demographic factors, personality, attitudes, and health status, as well as contextual factors specific to the appointment, may influence how one experiences this event.
Through a collaboration with Children’s Mercy Hospital (Kansas City, MO), this international project, led by Dr. Delwyn Catley, aims to integrate text messaging as a component of a lifestyle intervention being delivered and evaluated in rural South Africa. Specifically, a culturally adapted version of the Diabetes Prevention Program is being supplemented by an extensive library of text messages aimed at enhancing participant motivation, curricular retention, and adherence with the intervention. This line of work is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
This line of work, led by Principal Investigator, Dr. Christopher Sciamanna, is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and examines how peer-led exercise training and more patient-centered coaching could be beneficial to older adults for reducing falls and fragility.
In a series of completed and ongoing projects both in the lab and elsewhere with collaborators (including Drs. Lindsey Potter, Lenny Vartanian, Collette Eccleston, and Liz Brondolo) we explore the relationships between self-reported stigma/discrimination and indicators of health, including, but not limited to, stress and affect, health behaviors, physiology and biomarkers, and disease symptoms and indicators. Many of our studies utilized ecological momentary assessment (EMA) methods. As such, we are interested in examining these processes in everyday life, as they unfold in real life and natural contexts. Finally, we are also exploring the utility of EMA in this (and other) contexts to dynamically assess the impact of social identities (e.g. to explore intersectionality in context and as a process). Collectively, we hope this work will help explicate processes through which stigma/discrimination may impact health outcomes and help inform the development of interventions.
In collaboration with universities throughout the country, The North Texas Heart Study is a NIH funded project that is exploring the relationship between social vigilance, stress, and atherosclerosis. Led by Dr. John Ruiz, we have implemented a wide range of methods and assessments to comprehensively assess psychosocial, behavioral, biological, and clinical disease processes.