Public Health Research Interests and Projects

Public Health Research Interests and Projects

Ruth Gaare Bernheim, JD, MPH

Funded through the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

In collaboration with the Public Health Leadership Society (PHLS), this project addresses the needs of public health professionals for guidelines and education on the ethics of public health research, particularly focusing on ways to distinguish and clarify the perplexing differences between public health practice and human subjects research.  The project will draw on the Principles of the Ethical Practice of Public Health (Code of Ethics), drafted and disseminated by PHLS members and recently adopted or endorsed by nine public health associations. One project goal will be to specify and further explicate the Code's Principles and philosophy, particularly as they relate to public health research, in order to provide public health practitioners with a source of ethical guidance that is grounded in the profession's own ethical principles.  Another goal is to promote research integrity in the public health profession, at a time when public trust is critical.  The PHLS, through its Ethics Committee and Ethics Program Director, seeks support for the project's initial phase that features a planning workshop to bring together public health professionals in the field, including leaders from other relevant national public health associations that have either adopted or endorsed the Code, with experts in research ethics and public health ethics. The workshop has three goals:

  1. Determine how public health activities involving the collection and analysis of un-consented personal or group identifiable data, such as communicable disease surveillance and public health program evaluation data, are commonly used for research activities, including publications.
  2. Assess the adequacy of current guidance on applicable research ethics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others.
  3. Consider the creation of a "Task Force on the Public Health Code of Ethics and Research Integrity" to oversee the development of educational modules and appropriate professional research standards and review processes.


Public Health Practice

Elizabeth Lloyd McGarvey, EdD

Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences

Dr. McGarvey's research has included the evaluation of public health programs that may be used to inform treatment and prevention programs as well as public health policy.  Past and current studies include individual and minority group differences in health perceptions, decision-making and behavior in a number of topical areas.  Past research has included individual and minority groups differences in the following studies:

Child and Maternal Health:  nutritional status of 4th grade children (1999-2000); nutrition needs assessment for child care providers (2000);  breast feeding attitudes among WIC clients (2002);  childhood obesity prevention (1999-2003)

Adolescent Substance Abuse and HIV Risk Prevention and Treatment: physical and mental health status of incarcerated juveniles (2000-present);   prevention of high risk drinking among college students (2001-2003), evaluation of two treatment types to prevent substance abuse and delinquency in adolescents (2003-present); prevention of HIV risk and substance abuse in incarcerated adolescents (1992-97)

Legal issues and health decision-making: informed consent and abortion decision-making (2001); stakeholder issues related to involuntary commitment in VA (2006 - present)

Other research focuses on women's health issues:

Minority groups differences in decisions to screen for breast cancer (1996-2002);Adjustment to alopecia as a side effect of chemotherapy (2003-present); sexual dysfunction associated with cancer, depression and other health states (1995-present);African American college student responses to obesity prevention programming (present)