My current research agenda focuses on the health and social problems associated with substance abuse. I plan to expand this agenda to include two more of the four major malleable behaviorally related health concerns in the United States, as cited in the Health People 2010 which are: 1) Physical activity; 2) Overweight and obesity; 3) Tobacco Use; and 4) Substance Abuse. I am particularly interested in examining the links between social structures, psycho-social influences, the built environment and healthy behaviors; specifically I seek to answer the general question of, “why don’t we behave in ways that promote our own good health and the health of our families?” My rational for this agenda is that we are facing a health care crisis in the United States; health care costs are increasing at an alarming rate and putting pressure on an already fragile economy. The health of our nation will not be “cured” by medical treatment alone—we must work to promote healthy lifestyles and facilitate health behaviors to reduce the demands on our health care system. To understand the barriers to behaviors that promote health, we must look at the most vulnerable subgroups – that is, those who are undereducated, under and unemployed, who lack health insurance and consequently adequate health care, and who live in unhealthy physical and social environments. Finally, I focus on quantitative methodological approaches to utilizing social theories to examine these issues. In addition to traditional approaches, I work in a latent modeling framework to conduct multi-level models of influence on these health related outcomes.
The University of Akron