My research focuses on understanding factors that influence physical activity participation and diet among overweight populations, with the goal of designing and then testing novel interventions to increase physical activity and improve diet. I began integrating technology, including the use of social networking, into my research to enhance intervention reach. I developed a social-networking intervention to increase walking in dog owners, which was tested in a multisite, group randomized trial. I also collaborated with a small technology company, Megazoid Games, to collect pilot data on the feasibility and acceptability of using a health video game in schools to improve nutrition and physical activity in children (Schneider, Ferrara, Lance et al., 2012). We are planning a larger study to test the full Fitter Critters program in schools. I also collaborated on a randomized controlled trial that tested 4 different approaches to healthy lifestyle change, in which participants used a palm pilot for monitoring diet and activity (Spring, Schneider, McFadden et al., 2012).
My current project examines the use of active video games in children. Although most of my research focuses on increasing physical activity in sedentary individuals, I am also examining whether certain physically active individuals may be at greater risk for skin cancer, with the goal of developing community-based interventions to curb skin cancer risk.
Currently Funded Research
- Co-Principal Investigator, DePaul University/Rosalind Franklin University Collaborative Pilot Project. Understanding factors that promote active video game use in children, September 2013 – August 2014. This study aims to understand which active video game characteristics, psychosocial factors and individual characteristics drive use of active video games.
- Principle Investigator, American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant (93-033-15). Skin cancer risk and physical activity, April 2011 – June 2012. This project assessed the extent to which physically active individuals are at greater risk for skin cancer compared to their sedentary counterparts, as well as whether certain characteristics define physically active individuals at particularly high risk for skin cancer. Focus groups were conducted with individuals at high risk for skin cancer to inform intervention development.
- Co-Investigator, Healey Foundation Public Service Award (Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts). Community-Based Participatory Research for Diabetes Prevention in Individuals with Mental Illness, February 2010 - January 2011. This study involved trained community health workers in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and the pilot testing of the DPP in individuals with severe mental illness in coordination with ServiceNet, a community mental health agency.
- Principle Investigator, F31 MH070107-01A2, NIH/NIMH. Binge Eating, Exercise and Dietary Intake, April 2005 – April 2007. This research examined whether overweight, sedentary individuals consume more calories after exercise compared to after sedentary activity, and whether this relationship is influenced by binge eating and mood. Mentor: Dr. Bonnie Spring.
- Principal Investigator, R34 MH086678-01, NIH/NIMH. Behavioral Activation Enhanced Exercise Intervention for Diabetes and Depression, August 2009 - November 2012. This study aims to develop and pilot test a novel exercise intervention that is based on principles of behavioral theory and incorporates strategies of behavioral activation (BA) treatment for depression.
- Principle Investigator, 5UL1RR031982-02, NIH Center for Clinical and Translational Studies pilot project. A community-based social networking intervention to increase walking in dog owners, January 2011 – December 2012. This community-based participatory research project includes developmental work to inform the social networking dog-walking intervention followed by a multi-site group randomized trial to assess whether the intervention increases walking in dog owners compared to a standard print-based exercise control condition.
- Co-Investigator, R21-HD067351, NIH/NICHD. School Nurse Intervention and After School Exercise Program for Overweight Teens, July 2011- June 2013. The major goal of this exploratory study is to test the feasibility and ability of a school-based intervention, consisting of school nurse counseling and a school-based exercise program, on reducing BMI and improving dietary quality, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors in overweight and obese adolescents.