Social and Behavioral Sciences


Social and behavioral determinants contribute greatly to minority health and health disparities. Therefore, understanding how these factors influence disparities in health behaviors and health outcomes, and more importantly, how to modify social and behavioral factors to reduce risk and improve outcomes, offers great promise. Consequently, the Social and Behavioral Sciences Program aims to:

  • Examine disparities in health behaviors and health outcomes in minority and disadvantaged populations;
  • Understand the mechanisms through which social, environmental, and psychological factors influence disparities in health behaviors and health outcomes; and
  • Develop interventions to promote positive changes in social, environmental, and psychological factors, as well as health behaviors to improve health outcomes among minority and disadvantaged populations.

Acting Head

Kelvin Choi, Ph.D., M.P.H. , Stadtman Tenure Track Investigator, Understanding and Reducing Health Disparities through Social and Behavioral Research Program

See Staff Profile

Scientific Expertise:

Tobacco use epidemiology and disparities, tobacco marketing, tobacco control and policies.

Research and Programmatic Interests:

  1. Understand the interrelationships between social determinants and tobacco use behaviors.
  2. Investigate mediating and moderating factors on the interrelationships between social determinants and tobacco use.
  3. Develop, evaluate and forecast the impact of tobacco control interventions on tobacco use disparities.

Research Projects:

Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study.
  • The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study is a national longitudinal study of tobacco use and how it affects the health of people in the United States. It is the first large research effort undertaken by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since Congress granted FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009. Dr. Choi is part of the NIH team to examine tobacco use disparities using PATH study data.
Psychosocial Factors Related to Tobacco Use Disparities
  • Using data from epidemiologic and surveillance studies, we aim to understand how psychosocial factors (e.g., tobacco control policies, perceptions of tobacco use) that promote or prevent tobacco use differ by the social determinants of health.
Tobacco Product Use Pattern (T-PUP) Model
  • With the emergence of various novel tobacco products in the market in recent years, tobacco product use pattern has changed in the population. Integrating the concept of a risk continuum and tobacco use behaviors, we developed the Tobacco Product Use Pattern (T-PUP) Model to parsimoniously classify tobacco users in single, dual and polytobacco product use patterns.
Role of Tobacco Marketing and Counter-Marketing in Tobacco Use Disparities
  • Tobacco marketing has been a key factor promoting tobacco use and has targeted minority and disadvantaged populations. While tobacco advertising is prohibited in many of the conventional advertising channels (e.g., TV, radio), tobacco companies continue to find ways to reach out to their target groups. By examining magazine advertisements, we investigate how tobacco companies promote their products and who they target. We also investigate how young smokers of different socioeconomic status interact with tobacco marketing strategies to manage their cigarette expenditures. We are constructing a simulation model to forecast the potential impact on tobacco use disparities with the deployment of various tobacco control policies.
Understanding How Cigarette Direct Mail Marketing Influences Smoking Behaviors among High and Low Socioeconomic Status Young Adult Smokers
  • This study is evaluating the cognitive, affective and behavioral responses to cigarette direct mail marketing among young adult smokers, and their variation by socioeconomic status. A combination of physiological measures (e.g., eye tracking, event-related potentials), survey research, and behavioral tasks will be used in this study.