Health Behavior Capstone
Community-Engaged Scholarship: It’s what we do. It’s who we are.
Capstone is a year-long service-learning course that gives our students an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the first year of the program by working in teams partnered with community-based organizations to address real-world public health problems. Capstone benefits both the community partners and the HB students. This critical learning experience:
- Improves or develops public health programs, services, and resources
- Builds students’ and organizations’ capacity to address public health problems
- Strengthens partnerships between the university and community groups
- Positions students to be competitive in the job market
We focus equally on the service and the learning aspects of the experience. Class sessions are an opportunity for students to prepare for, reflect on, share, and receive feedback about their Capstone experiences. Download Capstone Syllabus
2015-2016 Capstone Projects
These Capstone Projects address ten different health topics and employ a range of approaches to improve the health of North Carolinians.
Goal: To identify smoking policy best practices and to assess stakeholder knowledge of and compliance with the implementation of the Durham County BOH Smoking Rule to inform recommendations for strengthening the policy
Faculty Adviser: Jo Birckmayer
Partner: Injury and Prevention Branch
Goal: To evaluate the statewide NC-Violent Death Reporting System (NC-VDRS) by creating reports based on key informant interviews and stakeholder surveys. This goal will be facilitated through identifying and recommending opportunities for data dissemination and access, leading to diverse and more frequent utilization and programmatic applications in settings across and outside North Carolina.
Goal: To develop resources that allow the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV) to implement a rapid re-housing demonstration site in NC and assist other communities as they implement rapid re-housing, with the ultimate intended outcome of reducing homelessness in our state.
Faculty Adviser: Shelley Golden
Partner: Orange County Department on Aging
Goal: To increase aging preparedness behaviors in Orange County adults aged 50-70. We will do this by providing recommendations to OCDOA to improve aging preparedness activities and services and connect to existing local activities and services, and we will develop a marketing plan to promote these activities and services to the target population.
Faculty Adviser: Susan Ennett
Partner: Porch, Inc.
Goal: To provide PORCH with resources for referral and enrollment, expansion, and future programming to promote growth and sustainability, and support PORCH’s mission to alleviate hunger through neighborhood food drives.
Faculty Adviser: Carol Golin
Theater-based Sex Ed
Goal: 1) To assess the social/educational context as well as barriers and facilitators to implementing a virtual version of AMP!, a theater-based sexual health education and HIV prevention program, in NC school districts, 2) Provide recommendations, based on qualitative research findings, to inform future implementation strategies for the AMP! intervention.
Faculty Adviser: Clare Barrington
Goal: To conduct a process evaluation of UNC FMC’s pilot Healthy Weight Program to inform program implementation and expansion; and to monitor data collection in preparation for the program’s outcome evaluation.
Faculty Adviser: Deb Tate
Partner: IntraHealth International, Inc.
Goal: To produce an English language, tailored module of the mSakhi mobile application that focuses on increasing knowledge and strengthening peer support networks to increase breastfeeding among low-income African American women in North Carolina.
Faculty Adviser: Kate Muessig
Goal: To consolidate existing cancer caregiver resources that both provide support for better care practices for patient care and caregiver self-care in a hardcopy toolkit and website. To consolidate existing cancer caregiver resources that both provide support for better care practices for patient care and caregiver self-care in a hardcopy toolkit and website.
Faculty Advisers: Geni Eng, Katrina Ellis
Goal: To bring increased rigor, best practices, and creativity to the design and evaluation of Self-Help’s 2016 workplace wellness program, resulting in improved employee participation, improved employee health outcomes, and organizational healthcare cost savings.
Faculty Adviser: Jo Anne Earp[/blue_box]
See our community partners page if you are interested in hosting a practicum student or a Capstone team.
Featured Capstone Projects
Who are you?
We are second year MPH students in the Department of Health Behavior. In place of completing a master’s thesis manuscript, we complete a Capstone project in which we partner with a community organization throughout the second year of the program to help accomplish a public health project.
We are partnered with the Durham County Department of Public Health (DCoDPH), specifically the Health Education division. Our preceptors are Mel Downey-Piper (Health Behavior alum!) and Willa Robinson Allen.
We are collaborating with the DCoDPH to identify smoke-free air policy best practices and to assess knowledge and compliance with the implementation of the 2012 Board of Health Smoking Rule, which prohibits smoking in some public areas in an effort to reduce secondhand smoke. To accomplish this, we completed an extensive literature review on smoke-free air policies, and we interviewed a variety of key stakeholders who either helped develop the Board of Health Smoking Rule, or helped develop similar policies in other counties in North Carolina. Throughout the month of February, we conducted five focus groups with Durham county and city government employees and English- and Spanish-speaking members of the public.
Christina Villella (left) and Alex Coombs (right) conducting a survey about the smoking rule in Durham, NC.
We also administered over 1,500 surveys to find out more about people’s knowledge of the Smoking Rule, how and where they found out about it, and what their personal experiences with the implementation of the Smoking Rule have been like. Our work in the month of March was analyzing all the data we collected. In early April, we will develop and present final recommendations for improving the Smoking Rule and its implementation to the Durham County Board of Health.
This collaboration has provided us with a unique opportunity to apply the skills we have learned in our MPH program to help improve a public health policy that has the potential to prevent smoking-related diseases and deaths in Durham. In addition to learning about the importance of passing a strong policy, we have also learned how important it is to have strong implementation of a policy in order to have the greatest impact on health behavior and overall population health.
Theme: Aging Preparedness
Faculty Adviser: Susan Ennett
Partner: Orange County Department on Aging
Graduate students in UNC’s Department of Health Behavior’s MPH program have worked with the Orange County Department on Aging (OCDOA) for several years, completing both the practicum and the Capstone requirements for graduation. In 2011, a Capstone team created the Orange County Master Aging Plan (MAP) and in the following years, students have helped to implement aspects of this 5-year plan.
A 2015-2016 Capstone team is continuing this work. Their goal is to increase aging preparedness behaviors in Orange County adults aged 50-70. They will do this by providing recommendations to the Orange County Department on Aging to improve aging preparedness activities and services and connect to existing local activities and services, and they will develop a marketing plan to promote these activities and services to the target population.
“This morning was the Orange County Master Aging Plan (MAP) Steering Committee meeting. More than 40 local community providers and older adult leaders came together to talk about the accomplishments of the past year. Health behavior students were mentioned over and over! As you may remember, the MAP was developed by a Capstone team back in 2011 and each year a Capstone team and/or HB interns have helped to implement aspects of the 5-year plan. It was so amazing to hear the real impact the students are making to meet the needs of local seniors and to help Orange County become even more aging-friendly.”
Heather K. Altman, MPH, Project Manager, Global Aging Collaborative UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health & Director, Community Connections Carol Woods Retirement Community
What our students say about Capstone
“Every day I am thankful that I do not have to do an individual thesis and instead I get to work with a community organization on a project that will actually produce tangible results and not just sit on a shelf.” –HB MPH Student 2014
“This has been a great experience for a long-term project. At the Celebration Day, I was SO impressed by the work of all my colleagues (and wished I could have been on multiple teams at once!). […]. The collaborative experience, and in particular the chance for community engagement, […] was invaluable.” –HB MPH Student 2014