New facility to advance URI’s behavior change research

KINGSTON, R.I. — December 12, 2011 — Known worldwide for its research and expertise in behavior change, the University of Rhode Island is now creating a centralized facility to support a full complement of faculty, researchers and students who are developing and evaluating new approaches to behavior change.

Soon to be under construction, the new Central Behavior Change Research facility will be located on the first floor of the Chafee Social Science Center, which is an important part of what is becoming the University’s health sciences district. Psychology Department Chair Patricia Morokoff is one of the co-directors for the center.

Morokoff explained the facility will be a “centralized research facility” designed to bring the collected data from localized research endeavors on campus together. The interventions and training aspect will research new methods for weight loss, cigarette smoking cessation, and other health-related issues.

This centralized behavior change research facility will integrate four of URI’s research-related services: Quantitative and Methodology, Intervention and Training, Telemetrics and Telecommunications, and Survey and Outreach. These combined resources will provide everything needed for behavior change research — from initial research and behavior change intervention design through to quantitative analyses of outcomes — all in one place.

Consistent with the University’s goal for interdisciplinary and experiential learning, the research facility will open many new opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to become involved in new or ongoing research projects in this critical area. The research may involve students from multiple majors — from psychology and kinesiology to computers, engineering and more.

Behavioral research at URI is dedicated to changing single and multiple behaviors, such as smoking cessation, weight management and medication adherence to prevent and manage a broad range of chronic diseases. In fact, such behaviors account for about 60 percent of total health care costs in the U.S. As a significant portion of the federal research funding the University receives is for behavior change research, this new facility will dramatically increase opportunity for additional research.

The construction is funded by a $2.8 million grant awarded to URI from the National Institutes of Health and through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It will be completed in the summer of 2012.