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The HBB designs and conducts behavioral and observational research to identify determinants of health behavior and to test the efficacy and effectiveness of educational, behavioral, and environmental strategies for improving or protecting maternal, child, and adolescent health. The research is conducted within an adolescent development framework and focuses on the influences of individual characteristics, parents, and peers on adolescent health behavior.
The HBB also provides service to the Division, Institute, NIH, DHHS, and the profession via consultation, collaboration, and assistance to advance the goals of the Institute; and recruits, trains, and mentors highly qualified students and trainees at various stages of their careers to position them for professional careers in health behavioral research.
There are three main areas of ongoing research: young novice drivers, family management of diabetes, and adolescent problem behavior.
Health Behavior Branch Chief and Senior Investigator Position (PDF - 459 KB)
- In naturalistic driving research, HBB researchers found that novice teenage drivers had elevated g-force (kinematic) event rates and kinematic risky driving in the past month was a good predictor of crash/near rates in the following month (Simons-Morton et al., American Journal of Epidemiology, 2012) PMID:22271924.
- In a randomized trial in which a sample of newly licensed drivers had DriveCam in-vehicle data recorder and feedback devices installed in their vehicles it was determined that feedback about kinematic risky driving in the form of a blinking red light after a threshold gravitation force was exceeded due to hard stopping, sharp turns, and other risky driving did not affect kinematic risky driving when delivered only to the teenage drivers, but immediate feedback to the teenage driver and weekly, summarized feedback to the teenagers and their parents reduced kinematic risky driving (Simons-Morton et al., Journal of Adolescent Health, 2013). PMID:23375825
- Using a nationally representative sample of US adolescents and three patterns of physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SB) and dietary intake emerged. The typical pattern (47% of participants) included moderate involvement in PA and SB, and low healthful and unhealthful dietary intake. One group (27%) reported a healthful pattern (high PA and healthful dietary intake, and low SB and unhealthful dietary intake). A third unhealthful pattern (26% of participants) included low PA and healthful dietary intake; and high unhealthful dietary intake. The typical and unhealthful patterns were related to unhealthy weight status, lower life-satisfaction, poorer body-image and more symptoms of health problems and depression. (Iannotti & Wang, Journal of Adolescent Health, 2013) PMID:23642973
- Substance use was examined in a nationally representative sample of US 10th graders. Recent alcohol use was reported by 35% of these adolescents, binge drinking by 27%, and cigarette smoking by 19%. Use of marijuana was most common among illicit drugs (26%), followed by misuse of medication (9%) and use of other illicit drugs (8%). Non-users of drugs reported lower levels of depressive and physical health symptoms, whereas users of multiple drugs reported higher levels of physical health and depressive symptoms. (Conway, et al, Journal of Adolescent Health, 2012) PMID:23465320
- Strategies to assist patients in achieving optimal chronic disease self-management are critical. The complex family and regimen issues surrounding pediatric type 1 diabetes management suggest the need to integrate such strategies into routine clinical care. This study demonstrates the efficacy of a practical, low-intensity behavioral intervention delivered during routine care for improving glycemic outcomes. Findings indicate that the approach may offer a potential model for integrating medical and behavioral sciences to improve health care. (Nansel, et al, Pediatrics 2012) PMID:22392172
- In an examination of dietary intake among youth with type 1 diabetes, intake fell well short of US Dietary Guidelines, with consumption of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains averaging less than half of the recommended intake and saturated fat nearly twice the recommended maximum. Almost half of energy intake was from highly processed foods (refined grains, chips, sweets, and beverages). Greater fruit and whole grain intake were associated with lower BMI percentile. Findings suggest the importance of finding strategies to improve healthful eating in the context of medical nutrition therapy for the care of youth with type 1 diabetes. (Nansel TR, et al, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2012, PMID:23102173)