JPHMP Editorial Board Member Spotlight on Danielle Jake-Schoffman, PhD

Danielle Jake-Schoffman, PhD

Danielle Jake-Schoffman, PhD

The Journal of Public Health Management & Practice welcomes Dr. Danielle E. Jake-Schoffman to its editorial board. Dr. Jake-Schoffman is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine University of Massachusetts Medical School, in the PRACCTIS program for training in implementation science research in cancer prevention and control. She works in the UMass Center for mHealth and Social Media research on technology-enabled interventions for health behavior change. Dr. Jake-Schoffman’s research interests include the use of mobile technology tools to encourage healthy eating, physical activity, and family communication about health behaviors as well as public health approaches to physical activity promotion. She received her PhD in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina (USC), where she was a graduate research assistant in the USC Prevention Research Center working on community-engaged physical activity interventions. She joined the JPHMP editorial board in January 2017.

What is the origin of your interest in obesity research? Is there a particular interest in pediatric obesity? Why?

My research interests are broadly in the promotion of physical activity and healthy eating for chronic disease prevention and control. I became interested in this area of research during my undergraduate training at Stanford University, when I was first exposed to the area of behavioral science and began to learn about the impact of lifestyle interventions on chronic disease prevention and control as opposed to surgical and pharmaceutical approaches. I am particularly committed to family-based intervention research because of the importance of the family unit for motivating and reinforcing health behaviors, and the potential to affect multigenerational behavior change.

What led to your focus on mobile technology to modify healthier lifestyle choices?

The beginning of my own research career as a research assistant at the Stanford Prevention Research Center coincided with the rapid expansion of smartphones, mobile apps, and physical activity devices. I was involved in early pilot research to test methods to engage first responders in a technology-enabled weight loss intervention, and became very interested in the ability of technology to make behavioral interventions more accessible to populations that have been traditionally underserved. As technologies such as smartphones became ubiquitous in the US, I became more and more committed to finding ways to use these tools to spread health promotion and get people more physically active.

What are you currently working on at your new position at the Univ. of Massachusetts Medical School, and how does your research align with your larger goals?

As a postdoctoral research fellow, I am working on a number of projects through the UMass Center for mHealth and Social Media that focus on weight loss and stress management using technology tools. I am learning methods to engage research participants through social media and techniques for conducting fully-remote clinical trials. I am also receiving formal training in implementation science research methods. I hope to combine these two areas of research to expand my own work into larger technology-enabled networks (eg, social media, mobile apps freely available in app stores) to engage a wider group of participants in my future projects.

What is the relationship between parents and their children in regards to obesity? Is it largely a matter of learned behaviors? Can you briefly describe what you’ve uncovered by your research and how mobile apps and technology may offer solutions to some of the problems we face?

The dynamics underlying family relationships and their impact on health behaviors are very complex. My own research using technology to bring families together for health behavior change has shown promising preliminary results. Overall, parents and children have been very willing to engage in physical activity and healthy eating materials delivered through mobile apps, websites, and physical activity devices. Further, these tools appear to help reduce barriers to participation and may aid in program retention over time by making it convenient for busy families to engage with materials.

What does one gain from being a member of the JPHMP editorial board?

Serving on the JPHMP board is a wonderful opportunity to be part of conversations about the focus and future directions of journal content, to discuss how best to address important current events in public health, and how to better serve the readers of JPHMP by continuing to evolve the journal to best keep readers informed about developments in research and practice that matter to them. As a junior investigator, serving on the JPHMP is an invaluable chance to be part of a team of multidisciplinary experts from whom I can also learn a lot about the diversity of approaches to our work in public health.

What aspects of your expertise are you most looking forward to adding to the JPHMP board?

I bring a unique mixture of formal training in behavioral medicine, implementation science, and technology-enabled research to the JPHMP board. I look forward to adding my expertise in novel research approaches to public health interventions to the wealth of existing knowledge on the JPHMP boa

For further reading on technology and health, consider these related articles from the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice*:

*Articles may require a subscription to JPHMP or purchase.

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