Applications for society and health

Racism

With center-affiliated scientists Monnica Williams, Ph.D., and Daniel Rosen, Ph.D., we are conducting several studies to understand, intervene upon, and decrease racism and prejudice.  

Cultural Cognitions & Actions Scale (CCAS)

The CCAS is intended as a measure of white individuals’ tendencies to microaggress towards people of color.  We are currently in the process of initial data collection and validation of this instrument.  

Reducing Racial Disparities in Healthcare

We are developing and testing interventions to doctor verbal and non-verbal communication patterns with patients to color to improve patient experiences, trust, and medical outcomes.

The Racial Harmony Workshop

The Racial Harmony Workshop is an intervention designed for college campuses to decrease inter-racial anxiety in white students, improve cross-racial friendships, and improve the campus life experience of students of color.  We are currently testing this intervention in a controlled trial.

 

A Social Functioning Intervention for Bariatric Surgery Non-Responders

The role of social support in weight loss in individuals with obesity has been a topic of research for several decades. There is evidence that interventions on social functioning can assist in facilitating weight loss.  Given that roughly 10% of bariatric surgery interventions are unsuccessful and that the exact mechanism by which these interventions fail is unclear, it is possible that interpersonal relating plays a role.  Our study seeks to evaluate the use of an intervention targeting improved social connections for bariatric surgery non-responders. 

 

Therapy for improved social connections

The Center for the Science of Social Connection has an ongoing line of research investigating psychotherapeutic interventions targeting improved social connections as a mechanism for broad physical and mental health improvements.  We seek to better understand the mechanisms of change at the psychophysiological and behavioral levels and to improve psychiatric outcomes for clients who seek psychotherapy.

 

Vaccines

The problem of vaccine hesitancy - parental hesitancy to follow recommended vaccination schedules for their children - generates stress for both pediatricians and parents and results in significant public health impact. Unvaccinated children are at risk for serious diseases and increase community-wide risk for outbreaks.  Recent research suggests that pediatricians must be assertive and presumptive with vaccine-hesitant parents (VHPs) to increase vaccine acceptance but this presumptive communication technique decreases parent-rated visit satisfaction, leading to decreases in long-term adherence to recommendations and increased doctor switching.  

We are currently running focus groups to evaluate a training strategy for enhancing pediatricians’ ability to maximize vaccine acceptance.  The goal is to improve parent-provider communication with respect to vaccine hesitancy as well as other relevant outcomes across medical contexts. 

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