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Health Behavior Department and Faculty News, Fall 2016

Health behavior faculty members continue to produce research that informs policy and practice. This fall, several have been recognized with prestigious awards for service and leadership. Read about faculty members Geni Eng, Laura Linnan, Suzanne Maman and others. Find out about Leslie Lytle’s keynote presentation to NCSOPHE and see selected faculty research publications. The fall has been a busy one.

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Faculty Awards
Appointments and Promotions
Engaging with NCSOPHE
Selected Publications and Grants 

Faculty Awards

Professor Geni Eng receives the Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award

Professor Geni Eng.

Professor Geni Eng.

Eugenia Eng is a trailblazer in community-engaged scholarship. Eng refined the innovative lay health adviser (LHA) intervention model, an approach that builds on the social support function of social networks that exist naturally within communities. The LHA is an “assets-based” approach to community-based research that encourages partnerships among professionally trained health educators, academics and lay community residents. She first tested the LHA with African-American churches in North Carolina.

Through the process of her research and practice with the LHA model, Eng has left in place dozens of active, robust lay health adviser networks in communities throughout North Carolina. Eng also pioneered Action-Oriented Community Diagnosis, a unique and effective tool for community assessment, planning and mobilization. She has worked with dozens of North Carolina communities to conduct community diagnoses and trained hundreds of students over several decades. The impact of Eng’s work can be seen in stronger North Carolina communities. Read More

Laura Linnan recognized as HERO for leadership in workplace health

Dr. Laura Linnan

Dr. Laura Linnan

Laura Linnan, ScD, professor of health behavior and associate dean for academic and student affairs at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, was honored with the 2016 Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Mark Dundon Research Award on Sept. 26 at a HERO Forum in Atlanta.

During her research career, Linnan has led more than 35 successful intervention or evaluation trials in the field, funded by organizations including the National Cancer Institute, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Cancer Society.

“This award recognizes the impact that applied research experts such as Laura Linnan have in our evolving workplace health and well-being industry,” said Paul Terry, president and chief executive officer of HERO. “Laura’s rigorous and comprehensive approach to evaluating workplace interventions is impressive. Her interest in translating public health research results for improvements in workplaces and communities is the type of real-world practice and policy change we need to advance our field.” Read More

Engaging with the North Carolina Society for Public Health Education (NCSOPHE)

Logo for the North Carolina Society for Public Health EducationLeslie Lytle, professor and chair, was invited to give a featured keynote presentation at NC SOPHE’s  2016 annual meeting in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Lytle’s presentation, “Understanding the Influence of the Environment: What Drives Health Behavior?” examined obesity as a public health problem and the role of health educators in addressing obesity.

NCSOPHE is a professional organization that provides networking and educational benefits that may be beneficial to students and alumni of the Department of Health Behavior. Check it out here. Read about Becky Bowdon, a health behavior alumna and active member of NCSOPHE.

Appointments and Promotions

Suzanne Maman promoted to professor on Oct. 1.


Dr. Suzanne Maman

Suzanne Maman, a social scientist trained in public health, is a professor in the Department of Health Behavior. She has been developing, implementing and evaluating HIV and violence prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa for twenty years. Her work on how violence increases women’s risk of HIV infection, and how an HIV diagnosis may affect women’s experiences with violence, has informed programs in Tanzania and South Africa.

Dr. Maman’s work also has led to WHO guidance and clinical tools to support women during the HIV testing process. She currently focuses on interventions that engage men in Tanzania on HIV and violence prevention. In addition, she teaches a skills-based qualitative research methods course that is required for master’s students in Health Behavior.

Wizdom Powell named associate director of the UNC Department of Social Medicine’s Center for Health Equity Research (CHER)

photo, Dr. Wizdom Powell

Dr. Wizdom Powell

Wizdom Powell, PhD, associate professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been named associate director of the UNC Department of Social Medicine’s Center for Health Equity Research (CHER) and research associate professor of social medicine in the UNC School of Medicine.

Powell also is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of UNC’s Men’s Health Research Lab. Read More
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 Selected Publications and Grants

Beth Moracco to lead  evaluation of rape education program

photo, Dr. Beth Moracco

Dr. Beth Moracco

The UNC Injury Prevention Research Center has been awarded a four-year, $1.79 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine the impact of a rape-prevention education program. The study will be conducted by faculty members from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC School of Social Work, with support from researchers at the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina.

The evaluation of the rape education program, which is conducted through the Children’s Home Society and called “Wise Guys: The Next Level,” will be co-led by Beth Moracco, PhD, research associate professor of health behavior at the Gillings School. The Family Life Program of Greensboro, N.C., initiated the involvement of rape-prevention education for male teens in 1990, with the establishment of the Wise Guys® program. “Wise Guys: The Next Level” works to educate young men ages 18 to 29.

Carmina Valle and Deborah Tate study daily monitoring of weight and activity among African American breast cancer survivors

Dr. Carmina Valle

Dr. Carmina Valle

Dr. Deborah Tate

Dr. Deborah Tate

The full article, titled “Preventing weight gain in African American breast cancer survivors using smart scales and activity trackers: a randomized controlled pilot study,” was published online Sept. 8 by the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.An intervention focused on daily self-weighing as a self-monitoring strategy shows promise for preventing weight gain in breast cancer survivors. These findings are the result of a recent study co-authored by three researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Our study showed that a distance- and technology-based intervention focused on daily self-weighing and small behavior changes was feasible and acceptable among breast cancer survivors,” Valle said. Read More

Study identifies the most persuasive messages for parents considering HPV vaccine

Professor Noel Brewer.

Professor Noel Brewer

Teri Malo, PhD, postdoctoral research associate at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is the lead author and Noel Brewer is the senior scientist on the study.

Among the parents surveyed, 65 percent said this brief message would be effective if delivered by a physician: “I strongly believe in the importance of this cancer-preventing vaccine for [your child.]”

“Providers have a lot to talk about during medical visits,” said Noel Brewer, PhD, professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Brief, memorable and persuasive statements about the HPV vaccine can improve parent-provider communication.” Read More

Review of multiple studies on graphic cigarette pack warnings

Photo: Dr. Kurt Ribisl

Dr. Kurt Ribisl

A review of nearly three dozen international studies found cigarette smokers tried to quit more and smoked less overall when countries implemented new policies replacing text warnings with graphic images on cigarette packs or strengthened pack warnings in other ways. Co-authors of the review include health behavior professors Kurt M. Ribisl (pictured here) and Noel T. Brewer (pictured above).

In the article, published online July 13 in the September issue of Social Science and Medicine, researchers summarized and pooled results of 32 studies that had examined the impact of strengthening pack warnings on smokers’ behavior in 20 countries. Two-thirds of the studies looked at the impact of replacing text pack warnings with graphic warnings that include text and pictures, while the other studies strengthened existing text or picture warnings in other ways, such as changing their size, content or position on the pack.  Read More

 To see research from any faculty member at any time, select a name from our Faculty and Staff page. Select the CV or PubMed Search link in the left-hand column.

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