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Research and Practice


Research Areas

Research in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society emphasizes theoretical, methodological and applied studies in four main research areas.

Social Determinants of Health, and Community and Structural Level Interventions:

The Department of Health, Behavior and Society is acutely interested in the social determinants (and longitudinal development) of health risk behaviors.

Further, we actively develop and test health behavior programs that intervene with entire communities and social structures—not only with one individual at a time. We recognize that to change individual health behaviors, we must consider the social context of those behaviors.

Health Communication and Education:

The Department of Health, Behavior and Society is focused on health communication activities including mass media efforts, social marketing and persuasive communication programs.

We are interested in the development, testing and dissemination of such communication campaigns. In addition, we provide health education training suitable for taking the exam required to be a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

Behavioral and Social Aspects of Genetics:

The Department of Health, Behavior and Society has a special interest in training and research related to genetics counseling—and broad interests in behavioral and social aspects of genetics.

These research interests include risk perception, risk communication, and behavioral responses to genetics information, as well as interests in the societal responses to genetic testing developments.

Health Equity and Social Justice

Of most interest are public health challenges related to the leading international and domestic causes of death, as well as diseases and injuries that disproportionately impact racial, ethnic, and vulnerable communities. The Department feels a special responsibility to address public health challenges that disproportionately impact urban communities.

Research Highlight

Decreasing Rates of Anemia Among Women in India Through the RANI Project

HBS professor, Rajiv Rimal, PhD, is the primary investigator for the Reduction in Anemia through Normative Innovations (RANI) Project. The multi-year initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and based in Odisha, works to mitigate rates of anemia among women in India.

Headshot of Rajiv Rimal, PhD, taken against a blurred background
Research Highlight

Cool Roofs Project Hopes to Curb Impacts of Climate Change and Promote Health Equity

HBS faculty, Sara Benjamin-Neelon, PhD, and Susan Sherman, PhD, are co-investigators on the Waking up to Climate Change: Cool Roofs, Sleep, and Health in Baltimore City project. The study, selected in 2020 to receive $1 million in SCIBAR funding, intends to analyze the influence of cool roofs on the urban heat island effect, health disparities, and the economy in the City of Baltimore.

Research Highlight

The Black Men’s Health Project Aims to Tackle Disparities in Black Men’s Health

The Black Men’s Health Project’s mission centers around understanding and addressing health disparities that impact Black men. A collaborative effort spanning across four U.S. research institutions and including over 10,000 participants, the project represents the largest initiative in the country dedicated to examining and bolstering the health of Black men. HBS professor, Roland J. Thorpe Jr., PhD, is a principal investigator.