Schneider to receive Paper of the Year Award from the Society for Public Health Education

Ellen Caylor Schneider

Ellen Caylor Schneider

Ellen C. Schneider, MBA, Research Scientist at HPDP, will receive the Sarah Mazelis Best Paper of the Year Award for Health Promotion Practice on March 31st at the Society for Public Health Education’s (SOPHE) Awards Ceremony in Denver, CO. This ceremony takes place during SOPHE’s 68th Annual Meeting entitled Scaling New Heights: Health for All.

The award-winning paper, State Fall Prevention Coalitions as Systems Change Agents: An Emphasis on Policy, was co-authored by HPDP Research Fellows Tiffany Shubert, PhD, MPT, and Mary Altpeter, PhD. The authors analyzed the implementation of falls prevention policies in accordance with the National Council on Aging’s Falls Free® Initiative. Results showed that statewide Fall Prevention Coalitions are pursuing and implementing these policies but could benefit from additional resources and technical assistance. This study is the first national census of empirical evidence regarding these programs.

The Sarah Mazelis Paper of the Year Award is given to authors published in Health Promotion Practice whose findings have made significant contributions to health education and policy. This award commemorates Sarah Mazelis, who was a renowned practitioner, health educator, and member of the SOPHE.

For more information about the SOPHE 2017 award winners, please click here.


The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention is a Prevention Research Center funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Media Contact: Sonya Sutton,; 919-966-4118


HPDP receives $1.5 million to develop diabetes self-management education toolkit

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Alice Ammerman, DrPH

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), a CDC Prevention Research Center, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was awarded a $1.5 million contract to develop a national toolkit for public health and clinical providers to assure that people with diabetes have access to evidence-based education and support programs to help manage their condition.

Diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) programs aim to prevent or delay the complications of diabetes. While proven to be cost-saving and have a positive impact on diabetes-related outcomes, DSMES programs remain underutilized among patients and health care professionals. The goal of this project is to expand access to DSMES programs to ensure that all people with diabetes are able to receive the care they need. The research team will market the programs to state health departments to help the health departments distribute the program across their states.

UNC investigators Alice Ammerman, DrPH, director of HPDP and professor of nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, Thomas Keyserling, MD, MPH, professor of internal medicine in the School of Medicine, Carmen-Samuel Hodge, RD, PhD, research assistant professor of nutrition at Gillings, Greg Randolph, MD, MPH in the department of pediatrics at the School of Medicine and Hugh Waters, PhD, associate professor in the School of Nursing will be partnering with Population Health Improvement Partners (PHIP), People Designs, RTI International, and the RTI-UNC Consortium for Implementation Science (CIS) on this project. The project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with partners at the CDC and with our colleagues in the clinical and public health communities through this project,” said Ammerman. “The DSMES programs have the potential for enormous positive impact if we can develop, implement, and market a Toolkit that helps overcome the challenges provider, patient, and system levels.”

The research team will develop a strategic marketing plan for the toolkit to make sure that all audiences who could benefit from this project will be reached. Diabetes professionals across the United States will be trained to use these tools through a series of webinars and in-person training sessions.

“This toolkit will be a one-stop resource for creating, implementing, sustaining and maintaining a DSMES program that meets the highest quality standards set by the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators,” said Joanne Rinker, Senior Director For Community Health Improvement at PHIP.  “We look forward to completing this work over the next 3 years and how it will impact access to diabetes self-management education.”

The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention is a Prevention Research Center funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Media Contact: Sonya Sutton,; 919-966-4118

HPDP Research Fellow honored by Obesity Society

“The impact of their work will be felt for many years to come.”

Dianne Stanton Ward, EdD, a fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), was recently awarded the the 2016 Oded Bar-Or Award at ward_dianne_2014the annual meeting of The Obesity Society, called “Obesity Week.” This award recognizes an individual selected by the Pediatric Obesity Section for contributions to pediatric obesity research and advances in the scientific understanding of etiology, prevention and treatment of obesity.  Ward was recognized alongside Deborah Tate, PhD, a professor of nutrition and of health behavior at UNC that won the 2016 Pioneer Award.

Ward has worked as a principal investigator for the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment (NAP SACC) program, a research program based at HPDP. NAP SACC promotes healthy eating and physical activity in young children in child care and preschool settings. Ward is also the head of HPDP’s Children’s Healthy Weight Research Group, which leads multiple research projects dedicated to improving the health of young children.

Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of nutrition and medicine at UNC, was not short in her praise of these two women. “Both of them have collaborated extensively here at UNC, and their work has contributed substantially to the field,” Mayer-Davis said. “It is important also to recognize that both have been very much engaged in training students and fellows. The impact of their work will be felt for many years to come.”

To learn more about this topic, click here:

HPDP Research at APHA 2016

HPDP researchers are presenting their work at the American Public Health Association’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Expo. This year’s theme is “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health”. The meeting is from October 29 to November 2 in Denver, Colorado. HPDP research that will be presented includes:

HPDP Research Fellow gives keynote address at New Mexico Conference on Aging


On August 24th, Ellen Schneider, a Research Fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, gave a keynote address for the 38th annual meeting of the New Mexico Conference on Aging. The Conference has been organized since 1978 as a way for adults, caregivers and professionals to learn more about aging while encouraging a fun environment.

Schneider is known for her work with the National Falls Free Initiative, as well as facilitating the National Falls Prevention Awareness and Advocacy Committee. She also co-founded the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition, which worked to create the North Carolina Falls Prevention Awareness Week. This week, which will be from September 19th to 24th this year, was proclaimed into observance by Governor Pat McCrory in 2015.

“As part of my role with the National Council on Aging’s National Falls Prevention Resource Center, I am working to spread the word across the country about how to reduce falls risks and help people live as safely and independently for as long as possible.”

Schneider’s keynote topic was “Successful Strategies to Reduce Older Adult Fall Risks.” She spoke on the U.S. Administration for Community Living, which has recently awarded grants to organizations focused on evidence-based programs for older adults and adults with disabilities. She also discussed the growing magnitude and impact of older adults falls; proven interventions to prevent falls; and tools for screening, assessing and referring older adults to appropriate resources.

The session not only stressed national efforts to address this public health issue, but also touched on successful fall prevention strategies being implemented by some afore-mentioned organizations. Approximately 2,000 people attended the presentation.

“Falls are the leading cause of injuries and injury deaths for people 65 and older,” Schneider said in her speech. “The good news is that most falls are preventable by taking simple steps such as exercising to increase strength and balance, reviewing medications with a health care provider, maximizing vision and hearing, and addressing potential falls hazard at home.”

The statistics on fall-related injuries are numerous and surprising. In 2011, falling was the confirmed cause of 883 deaths and roughly 25,000 hospitalizations, in just the state of North Carolina. In the entire United States, around 2.5 million older adults are treated in emergency departments due to fall injuries; and of these 2.5 million, over 700,000 are hospitalized. One of the most thought-provoking statistics can be found in a study done by the CDC, which researched into the unintentional fall death rates per 100,000 people, over age 65, in the United states from 2004-2013. This report found that the death rate increased by almost 20 percent, over this nine-year span.

For more information on the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition, go to:

You can also find more information on Ellen Schneider at:


Newly funded project will ease parental concerns and help providers recommend HPV vaccine to help prevent cancer


Noel Brewer, PhD (Photo courtesy of UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health)

CHAPEL HILL, NC –  The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine has been available for a decade, but many adolescents do not receive the vaccine, putting them at risk for several cancers. A new project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will develop a step-by-step strategy to ease concerns from adolescents and their parents and recommend vaccination to help prevent cancer in future generations.

The project will be led by Noel Brewer, PhD, professor of health behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is a member of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and a chair on the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable. The research funding is from the Prevention Research Center Program at Center for Disease Control and Prevention to the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

This innovative multi-level study will build on communication theory, clinical experience, and several years of research by Brewer’s team to identify effective messages and to refine a step-by-step strategy for effectively recommending HPV vaccination. The research team will enhance one promising strategy, the EASE approach, which helps providers address parental concerns and effectively recommend vaccination.

“Most parents want to follow their providers’ advice about HPV vaccination,” said Brewer. “But when concerns come up, research doesn’t yet tell us what the best way to address them. We will develop messages that parents and providers both agree are effective.”

Although the EASE approach is promising, it lacks several key features: data about its impact and effectiveness, specific messages to address parents’ HPV concerns, and emphasis on high quality provider information. The research team plans to amend these shortcomings in the EASE approach in order to achieve the main goal of providing a therapeutic connection between providers and parents, which will ideally raise the frequency of vaccinations for a generation largely at risk.

Brewer added one of the most effective ways to start a conversation about adolescent vaccines is for the provider to inform parents that the child is due for meningitis, HPV and Tdap vaccines.  The research will help providers take the next step when parents have questions.

“Increasing HPV vaccination may prevent as many as 50,000 new cases of cancers,” said Brewer.  “Our research will help the nation meet the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80% of adolescents ages 13-15 having received the full course of HPV vaccination.”

The study is based at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Chapel Hill and funded by the Prevention Research Center Program (PRC) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPDP has been a Prevention Research Center for the entire 30-year history of the program. The HPV project is of one the PRC’s Special Interest Projects, which focus on priority public health issues using additional funding for prevention research. For more information on SIPs, please visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website.

Nathan Klima

Media Contact: Sonya Sutton,; 919-966-4118

Building a partnership in Hertford County, NC with Community Health Workers


The Carolina Heart Alliance Networking for Greater Equity (CHANGE) is testing an innovative program to encourage healthy habits and reduce the risk forheart disease by engaging community health workers (CHWs) to bridge the gap between clinical and community services.

Researchers from the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), a Prevention Research Center funded
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have partnered with the local health department, federally qualified health center and community leaders to test this approach in Hertford County, NC for the CHANGE project. Hertford County is located in northeastern North Carolina, about 2.5 hours from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The area has an active farming community and other major employers include a privately run prison near the county seat of Winton and poultry processing plants. The community also has a strong public health infrastructure, including the Hertford County Public Health Authority, the Roanoke-Chowan Community Health Center and the North Carolina Area Health Education Center (AHEC).


Click here to watch a video of one of our CHANGE community health workers describe the project.

The HPDP research team is led by Sam Cykert, MD, and Jennifer Leeman, DrPH. The CHANGE project builds on the PRC-developed Heart-to-Health intervention, which has been proven effective when delivered by clinicians, but hadn’t been tried with CHWs.

The research team chose Hertford County because of its rural and low-income population rural and low income and has high rates of unhealthy behaviors. They also chose Hertford because both Dr. Cykert and Dr. Leeman have worked with the community in the past and knew the Public Healthy Authority and Community Health Center would be great partners.

“RCCHC has been particularly good at reducing cardiovascular risk within the clinical realm,” said Cykert. “By connecting CHWs to the clinical world, it provides a great opportunity to reach into the community and not only improve health for those already at risk but to touch family members and others with lessons on diet and other heart healthy habits.”

After choosing Hertford County, the investigators sought out community leaders and public health practitioners to form a community advisory board to advise the process. They spent a year adapting the intervention and developing a plan for its implementation with the advisory team, and hired two community health workers in the fall of 2015.

Taylor Myers and Nikita Moore are both natives of Hertford County who have a keen interest in working in public health and helping their communities.  Myers applied for the position after completing her undergraduate degree in health promotion, and said she was thrilled when she got the job.

“I was very excited, because prevention and intervention is what I always dreamed of doing,” said Myers.  “Helping people to be more educated about health, especially around here, was very exciting. The most exciting part is being able to build a close relationship with a patient, because I can spend more time with them than a doctor or nurse might be able to.”

In addition to recruiting participants from the community, the project recruits through health care providers, and nurses and clinic staff provide potential participants information about the project. If the patient consents to follow-up, then Myers or Moore calls the patient to set up an initial appointment.  Moore works with individuals who relay their interest through community organizations so her recruitment venues expands the primary prevention scope beyond the clinic and those who already have a diagnosis. Myers is based at the Roanoke-Chowan Community Health Center and Moore is based at the health department in nearby Winton.

“I always tell patients that I’m like the middle man between a nurse and a doctor,” said Myers.  “I’m not a nurse and I’m not a doctor, and I have more time with my patients than a doctor;  I’m allowed up to an hour and a half with them. That allows me to build a strong relationship with my patients.”

Myers has worked with 11 CHANGE participants who have completed the program. Those participants have said they enjoyed the program and have had good outcomes.  The CHWs meet with participants four times throughout the program and take their blood pressure and health measurements at the beginning and end to see what changes have occurred.

She said that the partnerships built through CHANGE have helped to connect patients with resources in their communities, and that she felt those partnerships and relationships would last after the project is completed in 2019.

The next step for the project is to expand to a second community in 2017. The team will continue to use the CHW model and will be looking for CHWs in the new community to continue the work started in Hertford County.

The CHANGE project is the Applied Research Project of the UNC Prevention Research Center, based at HPDP. The Prevention Research Centers is a network of 26 academic research centers in 24 states that study how people and their communities can avoid or counter the risks for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity, and cancer. They identify gaps in research and develop innovative approaches to improving public health that can be shared broadly with public health partners.  HPDP was one of the first three PRCs funded in 1986, and has been part of the PRC network for the entire 30 years of the program.

Partnership Spotlight: Exploring Six Years of Community Engagement

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*A printable version of this timeline is available at the bottom of the page

How can you see the impact of engaged research? Sometimes all you need to do is look at what’s being served to drink at the church potluck dinners.

Linda Riggins began working with researchers at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in 2010. The project was focused on implementing an evidence-based intervention in churches to help prevent HIV/AIDS in youth, and eventually led to three other projects, multiple academic publications and presentations, travel across the country and significant environmental and policy changes within churches and increased social capital among the research partners.

However, one of the first changes made was juice.lindariggins

“We call it Reverend Red Juice,” Riggins said. “It’s at every function, and it’s really sweet and dangerous. But what we asked for, and what they did, was start to offer water.”

Riggins provided this beverage switch as an example of how you can see change when conducting engaged research. But she saw other, much larger changes, too, and also saw how trust and relationships can build over time among the right people.

“It speaks to something people talk about all the time and write about all the time, but is hard to live, which is cultural sensitivity,” she said.  “The development of what is your position, your attitude towards, your knowledge of yourself and of the other and what are you going to do to lead in facilitating that relationship being smooth. It could have been a culture shock, but we had such skilled, experienced professionals that we didn’t have a lot of rude awakenings.”

Riggins was the project coordinator for Focus on Youth (FOY) and ImPACT, a project which sought to bring an HIV/AIDS curriculum to youth in churches. It was the first time she had worked on an academic partnership, and the UNC investigators were Alexandra Lightfoot, EdD, Director of the Community Engagement and Training Cores at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and research assistant professor in the department of health behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and Brianna Woods, who was a Kelloggs Health Scholar at the time the project began. Lightfoot and Woods were the academic partners, and the director of a local non-profit completed the research team.

“I felt strong in my knowledge of relationships and community,” said Riggins, “but I wasn’t sure of what the impact of working with the University would be.” She said it was a learning process for everyone, and that communication was key to building trust and partnership.

“Communication is so much more that what you can say. It’s how it’s heard, your timing when you say it, your tone, how you position your body, we learned so much about communication and the necessity to mean what you say, say what you mean and making it plain.”

She said as the different team members became more corigginschurchmfortable with communicating and trusting each other, they were able to create building blocks to an academ
ic research partnership that has spanned six years and two additional iterations of the project.  She said being clear about their goals and following through with their plans were an important part of recruiting church participation and earning trust from the participants, too.

“We came around the table from our academic standpoint, wanted to be sure we could code, wanted to be sure  we were community-based,” she laughed. “It doesn’t matter where you’re coming  from, you have to establish the relationship first. It’s trusting each other, but trusting yourself (as a community member) that you deserve to say what’s important to you and what’s not and how you want it to go.”

By creating that trust and validation, Riggins, Lightfoot and the rest of the team were able to hold teaching sessions with church youth about safe sex and protecting themselves from HIV. Some churches allowed them to do condom demonstration and distribution as part of the program, while others asked them to leave those parts out of the instruction. The program led to larger changes in the church’s policies, too.

“They changed the way they talked with their youth,” Riggins said. One church created a program called What Would Jesus Tweet to encourage youth to think about faith in ways that were familiar to them.

“The churches got wings in the impact in community and in their faith. The acceptance of responsibility of the churches for the spiritual growth of the communities they serve and the health and wellness of the communities they serve. We’re trying to equalize teaching and preaching about forgiveness, confessing sins and in the end it comes down to life choices.  They could dare to be different and say something a lot of folks aren’t saying and changing what they do.”

The research team also continued to work with some of the youth in the program and developed a Photovoice project based on the FOY/Impact curriculum, and expanded the program from a pilot test to full implementation, then changed environments from churches to public housing communities and other youth-serving programs. The team traveled to APHA in 2012 and 2013 to present findings from the research, and included Riggins as well as youth participants in both presentations.

Several youth in the study are now in college and pursuing public health careers, largely inspired by their work with the research team.  The project also expanded beyond youth and interviewed faith leaders to get their input on how to develop more interventions.

Riggins said it was important to appreciate the little and big changes and to note the intangibles, as well as the things you can see easily, like water in the potluck line.


De Marco receives Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for research

Tony Locklear, Molly De Marco, Daniella Uslan, and Alexandra Lightfoot celebrate De Marco's award for engaged research

Tony Locklear, Daniella Uslan, Molly De Marco and Alexandra Lightfoot celebrate De Marco’s award for engaged research

Molly De Marco, PhD, Research Fellow and project director in the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) and research assistant professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has received the 2016 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for engaged research.

The award is one of several public service awards presented on March 30th by the Carolina Center for Public Service in a ceremony at the Carolina Club.

De Marco directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded “SNAP-Ed UNC: Healthy Food for All in North Carolina” project, which provides nutrition education to people eligible for SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) in  Duplin, Orange, Lenoir, Sampson, Rockingham and Warren counties. She leads interventions that include the implementation of 18 community gardens and collaborates with three farmers markets to remove barriers to customers’ using SNAP benefits. She also works with the farmers market to increase the number of sites serving summer meals to children and families.

“Molly’s work is the ultimate example of engaged research,” said Alice Ammerman, DrPH, professor of nutrition and HPDP director. “She has a multitude of community partners who seek her collaboration, and she never fails to include input from these partners in her efforts. She is a master at balancing rigorous research principles with meaningful community engagement.”

De Marco, who came to UNC eight years ago for a post-doctoral appointment in community-based participatory research, said she was humbled by the award. “I stand on the shoulders of so many amazing mentors, including Alice Ammerman, Alexandra Lightfoot, Eugenia Eng, Rev. William Kearney, Melvin Jackson, Naeema Muhammad, David Caldwell and Tony Locklear.”

Locklear, a HPDP community partner and current Access to Recovery Services Coordinator and Lumbee Tribal Liaison for the American Indian Center and North Carolina Tribal Nations, received the Partnership Award in the ceremony.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt, who presented the awards, said she was proud to recognize the awardees’ innovativeness, scholarship and dedication.

“The University’s three-part mission to research, educate and serve our local communities, state, nation and world is truly enhanced by our unwavering commitment to public service,” Folt said. “The recipients of this year’s Public Service Awards prove that public service and engaged scholarship enhance the research conducted, lessons taught and knowledge used to serve the public good at this University.”

Other winners include Rhonda Lanning, clinical assistant professor in the School of Nursing, and the American Indian Center and N.C. Tribal Nations (Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards); Beverly Foster, clinical associate professor and director of undergraduate education in the School of Nursing (Ned Brooks Award for Public Service); undergraduate student Gayatri Rathod, graduate students Catherine Schricker and Korry Tauber, staff member Christopher Wallace, clinical assistant professor of social work Josh Hinson, MSW, and campus organization Student Health Action Coalition (Robert E. Bryan Public Service Awards).

Read more about the awardees on the Carolina Center for Public Service website.

Women’s Health Month Highlight: CARE (Caring and Reaching for Health)

This story is the second in our series celebrating research by and for women in celebration of Women’s History Month. To see the first, go to:Click Here 

By Merve Sherifi, 2016 Communications Intern

CARECaring and Reaching for Health (CARE), led by Principal Investigators Dr. Dianne Ward and Dr. Laura Linnan, is a randomized, controlled research study with the goal of improving the health related behaviors of those working in child care, the majority of whom are women.

CARE is evaluating two new worksite wellness programs designed specifically for child care centers and their employees. It is focused on improving physical, mental, emotional, and/or financial health of child care providers. Child care centers are growing and the individuals who work at these centers have a demanding job, and are often paid a very low wage. Child care center directors and staff sign up to participate as a team and are randomized into one of two programs, Healthy Lifestyles or Healthy Finances.

“Child care centers often do not offer health benefits or health promotion programs at the workplace. CARE gives us an opportunity to reach those who don’t have the same opportunities that are often offered to employees at larger worksites,” said Lori Bateman, Project Director.”

The primary goal of this study is to evaluate the effects of the Healthy Lifestyles program compared to the Healthy Finances program on a variety of health outcome
s among participating child care providers. The project will evaluate the impact of these programs on physical activity, eating habits, weight, smoking habits, emotional health, sleep quality, as well as changes that might occur in the work environment.

Several child care centers recently completed the 6-month intervention in Cumberland County, and recruiting for the next phase began in January 2016 in Rowan, Forsyth, and Davidson counties. The team is currently enrolling and collecting baseline measures on the new cohort and in the coming months they will be randomized into one of the programs.

CARE received positive feedback from child care centers that participated in the pilot program. Katherine Davis, Director at The Growing Place Child Care Center said, “Programs like CARE are needed to increase teachers’ health awareness while supporting and motivating them to improve their health!”

Another participating Director, Kim Draughn of Lulu’s Child Enrichment Center, spoke about her experience with the pilot program, saying “I feel that CARE is vitally important because it focuses on one of the key components of a high quality center, the teaching staff. Often child care providers are thought of as babysitters and their daily efforts to improve the lives of young children go unrecognized. Programs like CARE heighten public awareness around the need to recognize and appreciate the hard work and love that providers give to our children on a daily basis.”

To learn more about CARE please visit or email the CARE team at