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Research and Service: Behavioral and Community Health

Our Research Activities

Behavioral and Community Health faculty members and students are engaged in research aimed at optimizing health through the lifespan, eliminating health disparities, improving health literacy, and achieving health equity in communities across Maryland, the nation and the globe. Our research draws on behavioral and social sciences to address the health of individuals and communities across multiple domains, including: disparities in drug, tobacco and alcohol misuse, barriers to mental healthcare among LGBTQ+, the sexual and reproductive health of marginalized youth, and cancer treatment and prevention, among others.

Our Service Activities

Our department is actively involved in serving the community through our research centers, but also through experiences for students. Students have the opportunity to complete independent studies, travel abroad, and are required to complete an internship during their final semester.  Our upper-level undergraduate class, Making a Difference: Applying Community Health (HLTH 391), works directly with a community partner to plan, implement and evaluate community health programs.

Students plan, implement and evaluate community health programs with a community partner as part of HLTH 391: Making a Difference: Applying Community Health, and as a capstone to their degree students are required to participate in a 12 credit, semester-long internship with a community organization. Finally, students have the ability to seek out independent study opportunities and mentored internships to gain experience and earn health elective credit prior to their required internship.  

Independent study and experiential learning experiences range from assisting a faculty member on a research project, conducting an independent research project alongside a faculty member, or completing an internship with a community organization. Some examples of independent studies completed by students are:

  • Research assistantship focused on the coding analysis of focus group data, as well as facilitating a web-based survey on traffic safety behaviors and social influences among college students
  • Assist in interpreting data collected for a community-based research study. After data was interpreted, assisted in the preparation of abstracts for presentation and publication.
  • Participate in a medical volunteer program in Guatemala to learn basic triage skills, patient care, and patient administration in a low-income community. 
  • Research assistant at the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) to evaluate the accuracy of program listings, enter data, complete inventories, assist in the preparation of various assessments, community strategic planning documents, and evaluation reports. 
  • Research assistant with the Center for Health Behavior Research—looked at the consumer acceptability of new and manipulated tobacco products, and the oral microbiome of tobacco users. 
  • Intern with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) as part of the Research Promotion and Development Team to improve research reporting and the characterization of the different national health research systems in Latin America. 
  • Intern with the District Alliance for Safe Housing, and completed a research paper on the accessibility of resources for survivors of intimate partner violence in minority populations, specifically in the LGBT community. 

Through a capstone internship (200 hours for graduate students and 480 hours for undergraduate students), students have an opportunity to gain hands-on experience conducting work in the field of community health within one organization.  

Adventist HealthCare (AHC) - Center for Health Equity and Wellness (CHEW) is one of the many sites where our students serve as interns.  At this site students participate in a variety of outreach such as:  

  • Provide health screenings and results counseling
  • Develop educational materials (employee wellness and community outreach)
  • Design and implement prevention presentations (ie: cancer)
  • Participate in the evaluation of programming
  • Shadow health professionals

Additionally at this site, interns have the opportunity to gain experience in research by learning how to:

  • Prepare literature reviews
  • Collect, analyze, and interpret data
  • Manage database
  • Assist with grant writing
  • Evaluate program success

An internship with AHC-CHEW is a perfect opportunity for a student interested in medicine and allied health fields where patient/client contact and health education will occur.  Students interested in population-based research will also benefit greatly from this opportunity.