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In the Health Behavior Research Clinic (HBRC), Dr. Collins conducts health promotion interventions and community-based research that address cross-cutting public health priorities related to maternal and child health, tobacco cessation, and co-morbid mental health/addictive behaviors in populations with elevated risks for chronic diseases, such as asthma, cancer and heart disease. Dr. Collins and the HBRC staff are committed to prevention research that addresses chronic disease disparities that remain endemic in low-income urban communities. This commitment drives ongoing efforts to design and implement innovative strategies to reduce barriers to access and uptake of health services and help individuals and families in these communities overcome challenges to adopting and maintaining healthier habits. Over the last 15 years, HBRC projects have improved breastfeeding initiation and duration outcomes among low-income minority women, smoking treatment initiation and smoking quit rates among low-income maternal smokers, smoking abstinence among individuals with co-morbid mental health issues and joblessness, and daily physical activity uptake and maintenance among impoverished sedentary smokers.
Of particular interest to Dr. Collins is leading transdisciplinary teams of scientists, medical providers and community health partners to implement novel interventions targeting parents’ health behaviors that, in turn, benefit the parents’ and their children’s health. For example, he worked with pediatric providers in the three largest pediatric health systems in Philadelphia and with health educators from Philadelphia WIC clinics to help maternal smokers reduce their children’s tobacco smoke exposure (the leading preventable cause of pediatric illness and disease). Protecting their children from tobacco smoke represented the mothers’ preparatory efforts to quitting smoking, a process that protected children and other family members from exposure and enabled many mothers to quit smoking. The most recent and current efforts in the HBRC to increase the effectiveness of social and behavioral intervention elements include using technology, such as the internet/web conferencing, mobile devices with links to counselors to facilitate behavior tracking and feedback, and use of electronic medical records to guide healthcare provider adherence to clinical best practice guidelines in promoting healthy behaviors. Dr. Collins is also affiliated with Fox Chase Cancer Center.