Department of Health Behavior

Research and Practice - Faculty Active Research

Project Name

Funded by

Health Behavior Investigator

Project Goal

Youth Suicide Prevention and Awareness Program



David Coombs, Ph.D.


To implement a comprehensive youth suicide prevention and awareness program, increase access to prevention services and develop surveillance methods in Alabama. Key personnel at middle and high schools and social agencies serving vulnerable youth will be trained as "gatekeepers" to recognize, dialogue with and appropriately refer individuals at-risk for suicide.  Qualitative and quantitative measures will be kept of: gatekeeper knowledge and self efficacy pre and post training;  numbers of gatekeeper assessments and referrals of potentially suicidal persons; and, referral outcomes with respect to compliance and suicidal behaviors.  The project will also increase access to telephone and on-line services and conduct an educational/awareness campaign in communities and schools state-wide.

Healthy Passages:  A Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health


Susan L. Davies, Ph.D.


To assess a broad range of health behaviors including physical activity, nutrition, tobacco, alcohol and other drug use, intentional injury and violence and sexual behavior in order to develop effective policies and programs for improving the health of youth. Multiple determinants of youth health are the focus of this longitudinal cohort study.

Using CBPR to Strengthen Maternal Mental Health and Family Resilience


Susan L. Davies, Ph.D.


This project aims to identify the most salient factors contributing to poor mental health functioning of mothers living in Birmingham’s West End community, and adapt and pilot test a tailored, culturally appropriate mental health promotion intervention based on identified needs and stressors.

Community Influences Transitions of Youth: CITY Health



Susan L. Davies, Ph.D.


CITY Health is the core research demonstration project within the UAB Center for the Study of Community Health that explores the multilevel influences on physical, mental and sexual health of youth living in at risk urban neighborhoods as they transition to adulthood. 

Strengthening Causal Inference in Behavioral Obesity Research


Kevin Fontaine, Ph.D.

The proposed course will train scientists in understanding and using such techniques, who in turn will be better positioned to help identify ways of reducing the burden of obesity.

Dose-Response Effects of Transformative Exercise in Improving Health and Function in Adults with Spinal Cord Injury and Multiple Sclerosis


Kevin Fontaine, Ph.D.

The goal of this project is to investigate the effects of various exercise interventions on the health and function on adults with physical disabilities.

POWERSforID: A Telehealth Weight Management System for Adults with ID


Kevin Fontaine, Ph.D.

The goal of this RCT is to investigate the effects of low carbohydrate diet on health and body composition in adults with ID.

Neuromuscular Strain in CFS

The CFIDS Association of America

Kevin Fontaine, Ph.D.

The goal of this study is to investigate the effects of imposing a neuromuscular strain (passive leg raise) on symptoms and pain sensitivity in CFS patients.

Resistance Exercise and Body Composition in JIA


Kevin Fontaine, Ph.D.

The goal of this study is to determine the safety and feasibility of resistance exercise on body composition, physical functioning, and disease activity in patients with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

Assessment, Categorization, and Evaluation of HIV Testing and Linkage to Care Practices Among Community-Based Partners in the Deep South

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases CFAR Administrative Supplement

Robin Lanzi, Ph.D., M.P.H.

The overall goal of this administrative supplement is to gain a more thorough understanding of HIV testing and linkages in Jefferson County.  Specifically, the study seeks to (1) assess current practice for HIV testing and linkage to care (LTC) among health care and public health entities, including Jefferson County HIV/AIDS Community Coalition partners and (2) evaluate Jefferson County HIV testing and LTC practices with respect to published best practices for successful LTC to guide research applications, including development and evaluation of population sensitive and specific interventions tailored for the Deep South.

My Sister’s Keeper:  A Community-Academic Partnership to Address Maternal Depression

Community Health Scholars Program, UAB Center for the Study of Community

Robin Lanzi, Ph.D., M.P.H.

A community-academic partnership, initially funded by UAB’s School of Public Health Community Health Scholars Grant, between members of the West End community (led by Sheila Tyson) and UAB researchers (Drs. Suzy Davies and Robin Lanzi) to engage in community-based participatory research (CBPR) to plan, implement, and evaluate a maternal mental health promotion intervention.  CBPR methods guided MSK in creating a bridge to enable to two-way transfer of knowledge and behavioral skills between West End residents and academic scientists, a sustainable connection for continued efforts to eliminate health disparities.

Department of Children’s Affairs Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs: Expansion Grant

Department of Children’s Affairs, State of Alabama

Robin Lanzi, Ph.D., M.P.H.

This expansion grant seeks to provide needs assessment, program evaluation, and performance monitoring, quality assurance, and a plan for continuous quality improvement for Alabama’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.

A Community-Based Participatory Research Approach: Linking Resources to Identified Children's Needs through the Children's Policy Council Structure

Community Health Scholars Program, UAB Center for the Study of Community Health

Robin Lanzi, Ph.D., M.P.H.

This community based participatory research study aims to develop comprehensive action plans to address identified health, safety, early care and education, education, and economic security needs of children and their families in Jefferson County.  This process will assist community representatives to better understand expressed needs, map resources in local areas, and use an existing workgroup structure to engage in focused strategic thinking to address priority needs.

Preconception and Prenatal Stress: Pathways to Child Biology and Behavior

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Robin Lanzi, Ph.D., M.P.H.

This study prospectively investigates whether maternal factors in the preconception period and in pregnancy, especially stress and HPA regulatory mechanisms, alter the behavioral, stress regulatory and neurocognitive outcomes of young children, as well as effects on cellular aging processes in mother-child pairs. Findings will provide a new foundation for developing potentially powerful preventive interventions to improve children’s lifelong well-being.

Sexually Active Adolescent Focused Education (SAAFE):  A Mobile Based Game to Promote Healthy Sexual Practices National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Robin Lanzi, Ph.D., M.P.H. This R43 SBIR (small business innovation research) project seeks to develop an interactive, theory-driven, sexual health mobile game named Sexually Active Adolescent Focused Education (SAAFE). The game is designed for young African American adults to improve perceptions of sexual health risks, increase motivation to adopt protective behaviors (e.g., testing for STIs/HIV), and increase adoption of these practices. Benten Technologies (Dulles, VA) is the game software developer.  
Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) Behavioral and Community Sciences Core National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Robin Lanzi, Ph.D., M.P.H. The aims of the UAB CFAR are to support the mission of the National/NIH CFAR through programmatic leadership and provision of targeted services that enable UAB investigators to successfully complete research projects of high significance and impact.  The Behavioral and Community Sciences Core seeks to coordinate and support innovative studies in reducing barriers to HIV testing, linkage to care, and retention in care through the provision of behavioral and community science resources in areas of recruitment, risk assessment, prevention and targeted interventions.

Community Child Health Network

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; National Institute of Nursing Research Robin Lanzi, Ph.D., M.P.H. The Community Child Health Network is the first NICHD funded Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) national network designed to address maternal and child health disparities during the inter-conception period.  It is a 5-site prospective study of more than 2500 families, the majority facing multiple risk conditions, often living in under-resourced communities, yet displaying many strengths and utilizing resilience resources.  Novel features include the focus on the preconception or inter-conception period, inclusion of fathers and the mother-father relationship, balanced consideration of stress and risk factors versus resilience resources and positive coping mechanisms, and maternal allostatic load (a composite measure of wear-and-tear associated with cumulative stress) over a longitudinal period – spanning the pre-pregnancy period, pregnancy, and post-delivery.

Physical Activity to Reduce Cancer Risk and Related Health Disparities

American Cancer Society

Dori Pekmezi, Ph.D.

To test the feasibility and acceptability of a mail-delivered physical activity print intervention for African American women and explore potential mechanisms behind the relationship between regular physical activity and reduced cancer risk (e.g., changes in body weight and composition, hormone levels, gene expression).

IVR-Supported Interventions for Cancer Prevention in the Deep South

National Cancer Institute

Dori Pekmezi, Ph.D.

To test the feasibility and acceptability of an automated (IVR-supported) telephone-based physical activity intervention for cancer prevention in the Deep South.

Time Horizons


Cathy Simpson, Ph.D.

Understand factors related to problem drinkers’ attempts to stop/reduce high-risk drinking without formal substance abuse treatment

CITY Health


Cathy Simpson, Ph.D.

Examine risk and protective factors for high risk behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, sexual risk) for emerging adults in the Birmingham metro area; use respondent driven sampling to better understand social networks and their potential interactions with risk and/or protective  behaviors.