Research News, April 2018



It’s an exciting time for @UofSHealthPsych! We have several announcements to share, all related to our clinical health psychology research:

1) If you follow us, then you know that we have multiple active lines of research related to promoting healthy behavior. Our goals are to understand the psychological and social experiences that influence health behaviors in the natural environment, and use this information to improve health behavior interventions. We have multiple papers coming out in 2018 that pursue these goals: two related to Type 2 Diabetes outcomes, one on the role of calorie labeling of restaurant-type foods in grocery stores, one on recommendations for using social media in health research, and several on the role of social comparisons in behavioral weight loss treatment. Each of these topics will get some air time on this site in the coming months, so stay tuned!

2) In March 2018, our research on determinants and interventions to promote midlife women’s physical activity received a prestigious grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (National Institutes of Health). This funding will allow us to hire team members, recruit participants, work with state-of-the-art assessment technology, and develop a digital health tool tailored to the needs of midlife women. We’re off to a great start with related projects, and the whole team has been involved in activities such as coding literature and preparing abstracts for conferences. Read more about the grant here.

3) We’ll be at the Society of Behavioral Medicine annual meeting (SBM, April 11-14) and the UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media conference (May 18) sharing our recent and developing findings. At SBM, you can find us at #SBM2018 and:

  • Thursday’s Behavioral Informatics and Technology SIG “Tech Madness” and Middday Business meetings – 7:00am and 10:45am, respectively
  • Thursday’s evening poster session, presenting on relations between social media use and health behaviors (Kristen Pasko) and perceptions of the #fitspiration trend on Instagram (Sabrina DiBisceglie) – 6:15pm
  • Friday’s Women’s Health SIG morning panel on science communication (Dr. Arigo) – 7:00am
  • Friday’s morning paper session on Social Media and Broadcast Messaging for Health (Dr. Arigo) – 10:45am
  • Friday’s afternoon symposium on Understanding and Harnessing Social Influences on Women’s Health Behaviors: Social Perceptions, Stigma, and Social Modeling (Dr. Arigo) – 2:00pm

4) This summer, @UofSHealthPsych is moving to Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. We’re taking our website, Twitter account, and research along for the ride, so please check for updates as we transition to our new home.

Thanks for following our progress and exciting news! We’ll be back with an SBM 2018 review post in two weeks.


Meet UofSHealth Psych: Interview with Olivia Pappas



Today we’re talking with Olivia Pappas, a senior (4th-year) psychology student on the Clinical Health Psychology Research Team. We sat down with her to talk about her favorite health topics.

UofSHealthPsych: Why did you decide to major in Psychology?

Olivia: I originally entered the University as a Biology major in the Physical Therapy program. Sophomore year I switched majors to Psychology after taking Professor Grande’s Intro to Psychology class second semester Freshman year. The theories were so interesting and I kept reading and studying for that class instead of my Biology and Chemistry classes. After that I switched and have not regretted it once!

UofSHealthPsych: What is your favorite type healthy food?

Olivia: My favorite type of healthy food is hummus. I eat it everyday and its so good on just about everything!

UofSHealthPsych: What is your favorite type of junk food?

Olivia: I have the biggest sweet tooth and anything with chocolate is my favorite. Dessert is not dessert if there is no chocolate.

UofSHealthPsych: What do you do to stay active and healthy?

Olivia: To stay active and healthy I love to go to yoga and go on hikes. I live near the border of Delaware so in the summer my friends and I go hiking and swim in the creek at Alapoca state park. It is absolutely beautiful and the perfect day trip spot.

UofSHealthPsych: What research topics in health psychology do you find interesting?

Olivia: The research I am interested in health psychology is the integration of mobile technology and wearables into the health maintenance. I believe that this is the future of living an active and healthy lifestyle and it is great to be researching such a popular and new topic.

UofSHealthPsych: Explain some of the research projects you have conducted while working in the Clinical Health Psychology Lab.

Olivia: I have done coding for written narratives, in which I read stream-of-consciousness pieces and analyzed them for positive, negative, and other meanings in terms of social experiences and what participants learned from writing.

The other project I am currently working on is the start of our new program in which we use the Fitbit to track people’s activity. Over Intersession I was able to play with a Fitbit, and it was interesting and helpful for me to understand what this device is capable of and how to use this wearable.

UofSHealthPsych: What are your goals for the future?

Olivia: My current goals are to complete a year of service in California. I’d like to work with homeless children and teens to help them with basic needs, homework, and teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle.