Our Students in Action

Stephen Miller

Marrying Social Psychology to Health Behavior

Stephen Miller (center) with research colleagues Samantha Langan and Andi Zaverl discuss a project with Professor Jason Siegel (foreground).

Stephen Miller, who is starting his second year in the Master’s program in psychology, has leapt into work in his field on three separate community health research and evaluation projects. "This research is important because what we learn from the results may enable us to develop and improve upon programs designed at helping people live healthier lifestyles," he says. Partnering with two other DBOS students, Andi Zaverl and Samantha Langan, his first project entails working on a women's heart health study funded by the Health Psychology and Prevention Science Institute (HPPS) to help determine what might be some psychological barriers to help-seeking women. Their study is trying to find out why women might not ask for help for heart related problems, despite heart disease being the number one killer of women. “Information gathered from our surveys will--hopefully--shed light on the barriers to help-seeking behavior for women. It is also hoped that this information will be useful in designing interventions to inform women of their risk and increase their help seeking behavior."

Additionally, Stephen has an evaluation project underway of a health and wellness program at The Claremont Club with fellow DBOS students Massimo Backus, Matthew Galen, and David Mendolsohn and faculty advisors Dr. Tarek Azzam and Dr. Allen Omoto. "We are using a mixed methods approach to determine what effect the 12 week health and wellness program is having on participants and then using those results to help improve the program for future generations. For example, is the program having the desired results, i.e. improving participants' health (blood pressure, weight), knowledge about nutrition, and ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Are the program and its effects sustainable, and how might we improve upon them?"

As if that is not enough, Stephen secured a position with the School of Community and Global Health, working part-time on a UO1 funded Adolescent Obesity study. "This childhood obesity study is so important because of the current epidemic we are seeing in our nation's youth. The health lab at CGU does a lot of work concerning adolescent health behaviors, and I believe working with the lab and the School of Community and Global Health are the perfect opportunities for me to prepare for a career that integrates psychology and health at the academic as well as the policy level."