Health Behavior Research

Dr. Suzanne Maman and Lusajo Kajula seen here are implementing a microfinance and health leadership intervention with social networks of young men in Tanzania. The project focuses on HIV and gender-based violence prevention.

Focusing on questions that matter

Selected research Interests and strengths
  • Adolescent health
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Early detection and management of disease
  • Health communication
  • Health disparity reduction
  • HIV/AIDS prevention and control
  • Obesity, diabetes and weight-related behaviors
  • Tobacco control and regulation
  • Violence prevention
  • Worker and workplace health promotion
Faculty members, postdoctoral researchers and students conduct research to answer the questions that help us understand what we can do to reduce health risks, to promote healthy lives, and to increase the number of individuals who are able to benefit from known and emerging medical science.

Great disparities in health exist everywhere. We aim to change that by asking good questions.

Networked and collaborative by nature

The department’s network of collaborators expands the possibilities for faculty and student researchers. Collaboration begins with experts across the Gillings School, the university and UNC Hospitals, and includes state and local institutes that include health within their missions.

Faculty members are invited to advise, collaborate and lead initiatives from the White House, and North Carolina State Government, to local and global nonprofits.

Featured research publication

Dr. Marcy Boynton

Dr. Marcy Boynton

In a nationally representative telephone survey of 5,014 adults aged 18 years and over, more than a quarter of participants (27.5 percent) reported having looked for information on the different components of tobacco products and tobacco smoke, many of which are known to be poisonous or cause cancer. Of those adults, 37.2 percent were young adults (18-25 years of age) and 34.3 percent were smokers.

Out of non-smokers and older adults, 26 percent reported having looked for information on tobacco chemicals.“The majority of the U.S. public wants easy access to information about the chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products,” said Marcella H. Boynton, PhD, research assistant professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, member of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and first author of the paper.

Other resources
Health Behavior Matters: a roundup of research from faculty members and students. Doctoral dissertations: with students, dissertation titles and advisers.
“Surprisingly, our results reveal that the groups one might presume to be the least psychologically motivated to look for this information – young adults and smokers – were actually more likely to say that they had previously searched for it.” Read more in the Gillings News

Research areas and faculty interests

Research areas Faculty members
Adolescent health Noel Brewer, Susan Ennett, Leslie Lytle, Luz Reyes and Deborah Tate


Substance abuse, including alcohol Marcella Boynton, Susan Ennett, Nisha Gottfredson and Luz Reyes


Cancer prevention and control Noel Brewer, Jo Anne Earp, Geni Eng, Susan Ennett, Ed Fisher, Shelley Golden, Alexandra Lightfoot, Laura Linnan, Wizdom Powell, Kurt Ribisl, Barbara Rimer, Christine RiniDeborah Tate and Carmina Valle


Chronic disease coping and management Ed Fisher, Carol Golin, Alexandra Lightfoot, Laura Linnan and Christine Rini


Cancer management Alexandra Lightfoot and Carmina Valle


Arthritis management Christine Rini


Diabetes management Ed Fisher


Social networks and peer support Clare Barrington, Geni Eng, Susan Ennett, Ed Fisher, Laura Linnan, Suzanne Maman and Christine Rini


Community-based participatory research Lynn Blanchard, Lori Carter-Edwards, Carolyn Crump, Geni Eng, Meg Landfried, Alexandra Lightfoot, Laura LinnanBeth Moracco and Wizdom Powell


Eating disorders Nisha Gottfredson


Environmental health Carolyn Crump


Global health Clare Barrington, Geni Eng, Ed Fisher,
Vivian Go, Carol Golin, Jim Herrington, Suzanne Maman,  Beth Moracco, Kate MuessigLuz Reyes, and Jason Smith
Health communication Noel Brewer, Jo Anne Earp, Carol Golin, Laura Linnan, Leslie Lytle, Kurt Ribisl, Christine Rini and Deborah Tate


Injury and violence prevention and control Carolyn Crump, Susan Ennett, Laura Linnan, Suzanne Maman, Beth Moracco and Luz Reyes


mHealth Deborah Tate and Carmina Valle


Medical decision-making Noel Brewer, Carol Golin and Barbara Rimer


Mental health Geni Eng, Nisha GottfredsonKate Muessig, and Wizdom Powell


Men’s health Noel Brewer, Vivian Go, Wizdom Powell, Laura Linnan and Kate Muessig


Minority health and eliminating disparities Clare Barrington, Lori Carter-Edwards, Carolyn Crump, Jo Anne Earp, Geni Eng, Alexandra Lightfoot, Laura Linnan, Wizdom Powell and Carmina Valle


Obesity, diet, and physical activity Carolyn Crump, Ed Fisher, Laura Linnan, Leslie Lytle, Deborah Tate and Carmina Valle


Patient advocacy and medical errors Jo Anne Earp
Policy Carolyn Crump, Shelley Golden and Kurt Ribisl


Sexual health, STIs, and HIV/AIDS Clare Barrington, Noel Brewer, Jo Anne Earp, Geni Eng, Susan Ennett, Vivian Go, Carol Golin, Suzanne Maman, Kate Muessig and Jason Smith


Statistical methods Marcella Boynton, Nisha Gottfredson and Luz Reyes


Tobacco use prevention and control Marcella Boynton, Noel Brewer, Susan Ennett, Shelley Golden, Laura Linnan and Kurt Ribisl


Women’s health Jo Anne Earp, Geni Eng, Laura Linnan, Suzanne Maman, Beth Moracco and Jason Smith


Worksite health and safety Laura Linnan

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