The Behavioral Research Center (BRC) was established in 1995 as an intramural research program at the American Cancer Society. We conduct original behavioral research to reduce cancer disparities, modify cancer risk behaviors, and improve cancer outcomes and quality of life among cancer survivors, caregivers, and the general population. We provide behavioral expertise to inform Society programs, services, and strategic activities.

Prevention and Health Behaviors Research

Prevention and Health Behaviors Research identifies and addresses behavioral factors involved in the primary and secondary prevention of cancer, including health behaviors such as diet, physical activity, cancer screening and tobacco control. While there are plans to expand our research in diet, physical activity, and cancer screening, current BRC focuses on tobacco control research. The Tobacco Research program focuses on increasing smokers’ motivation to quit and/or their success in quitting. We study the contributions of (i) social influences such as social pressure to quit or receiving social support during quitting; (ii) psychological factors such as depression, personality, or gender differences; and (iii) biological influences. The BRC also investigates how these factors interact—for example, the relationship between physiological stress responses and cravings or relapse, and the ability of social support to affect this relationship. The results are used to develop strategies that increase the demand for, and the effectiveness of, smoking cessation interventions. We are also interested in adapting cessation interventions for populations that experience disparities in the prevalence and effects of tobacco use. Studies in this area include:

Study of Tailored Email Messages for Smoking Cessation. This randomized controlled clinical trial will examine whether emails offering personalized and tailored smoking cessation advice before and after smokers ’identified quit date helps them abstain from tobacco. This low-cost intervention may be adapted for cancer survivors.

Study of Smokers’ Treatment Preferences. This study, using data from over 1200 smokers accessing the ACS Great American Smokeout website for advice on quitting, employed cluster analysis to gain insight into how smokers make judgments about their preferences for cessation treatments. It also identified socio-demographic and other predictors of interest in cessation products and services. Results will be used to more effectively target subgroups of smokers to increase demand for treatments

Study of Gender, Social Support, and Stress Responses. This randomized, controlled laboratory study (funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse) examines whether emotional support from a romantic partner can lower smokers’ cravings, withdrawal symptoms, emotional distress, and actual smoking during a period of abstinence from nicotine. This study is the first experimental investigation of the possible underlying mechanisms responsible for the effects of social support in helping smokers quit. It will also examine the role of gender in predicting effects. For more information about Tobacco research, contact Dr. Lee Westmaas at Lee.Westmaas@cancer.org.

Contact the BRC
BehavioralResearch@cancer.org
1.800.758.0227
or, call Asha Menon at 404.329.7769
American Cancer Society, NHO
Behavioral Research Center
250 Williams Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30303