Five NIDCR-supported investigators will participate this summer in the fifth annual Advanced Training Institute (ATI) on Health Behavior Theory. This one-week seminar offers intensive training for investigators in the conceptual, methodological, and statistical underpinnings of health behavior theory. Instructors also will assist attendees in applying concrete theoretical ideas to their latest research challenges as a means to better develop effective community-based interventions. The seminar will be held July 25 – 31 at the Fluno Center for Executive Education at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
The ATI session was supported during its first four years by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). In 2010, NCI and OBSSR opened up the seminar to other NIH institutes and centers, including NIDCR, to cosponsor. After a competitive review, 35 participants from across NIH research interests were selected to come to Madison, including five from the oral health research community.
Below the five oral health attendees offer their thoughts on the upcoming seminar, health behavior theory, and its potential applications to their work:
Charlotte Lewis, MD, MPH
Associate Professor, School of Medicine
University of Washington
Human behavior is complex and changing it for the better is one of the most challenging and yet important things we strive to do as health care providers. Research that helps us to better understand how to successfully change human behavior thus forms the foundation for everything else that we do to improve our nation's oral health and overall health. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to participate in the ATI course and hope that doing so will allow me to pursue essential research needed to promote better oral health for children who are poor or have special needs and their families."
Lisa Heaton, PhD
Acting Assistant Professor
Department of Dental Public Health Sciences
University of Washington
My current research focuses on oral health disparities in individuals with chronic mental illness. Specifically, laying the groundwork for a behavioral intervention in non-dental settings, such as pharmacies, in order to increase access to oral health resources for individuals with chronic mental illness. I hope to apply the ATI training to the development and testing of theoretical models of the complex relationship between oral and mental health. I then hope to apply this theoretical understanding to the development of oral health interventions for psychiatric and other underserved populations.
Donald Chi, DDS, PhD
Assistant Professor of Dental Public Health
University of Washington School of Dental Medicine
Poor oral health is a problem for children with a chronic health condition, in part because many of these children lack adequate access to dental care. My research seeks to identify the behavioral determinants of dental utilization for Medicaid-enrolled children with a chronic health condition. One challenge is that health behaviors are complex and difficult to sustain in the long-term. The main research challenge I face is translating my empirical findings into clinical practice. I use health behavior theory to conceptualize reasons why subgroups of Medicaid-enrolled children have problems accessing dental care. My long-term goal is to use this knowledge to develop behavior-based clinical interventions and policies aimed at improving disparities in access to dental care. I will also use my findings to build on existing health behavior models and develop new models on dental care utilization.
Henrietta Logan, PhD
Professor and Director
Southeast Center for Research to Reduce Disparities in Oral Health
College of Dentistry, University of Florida
Work with diverse communities has helped our research team focus on research questions and methodologies that are relevant to those communities. The next step is to increase the rigor of our work by applying cutting-edge health behavior theory to the framing of the research questions and to the subsequent analyses. The proposed Advanced Training Institute (ATI) promises to examine health behavior theories that are designed to explain and predict individual health and screening behaviors. My goal is to apply insights gained from the ATI to theoretically grounded studies that lead to interventions that are targeted and tailored to the individual within the underserved community. I plan to extend my knowledge of the conceptual, methodological and statistical underpinnings of numerous health behavior theories and apply this new knowledge to community-based research.
Stefanie Russell, DDS, MPH, PhD
Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion
New York University College of Dentistry
My research focuses on improving the oral health of women and the elderly, specifically by reducing disparities in oral disease. Challenges include recognizing, and then measuring the different factors that lead to disparities in oral disease, and especially in coming up with the mechanisms of how these factors work together. Having a theoretical model of how something works in the real world helps direct and inform research. Knowing how to properly create and structure models of health behavior theory will greatly help me to improve my studies to direct interventions aimed at improving oral health outcomes, including increased access to dental care and increased utilization of preventive dental care.