Photo: Amy Jemelka and Tim Freson in Washington, D.C., with HWS project poster.
 
Health and Wellness Services (HWS) is integrating research into health promotion to improve planning and outcome measurements. A research-based model of health promotion will allow HWS to increase accountability and to more effectively demonstrate results from programming.
“We’ve been moving in this direction for a few years, but with the successful beginning (last summer) of our Center for Research, we’re in a better position now to implement this change,” said Bruce Wright, director of HWS.
Within the field of health promotion, there is a continually increasing emphasis on developing and implementing empirically determined best practices. Traditional educational approaches have not always been effective, and new methods are being explored.
 
Reducing risk
For the past two years, HWS has collaborated with the Consortium for the Study of Communication and Decision Making in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication and the Office of the President to create and implement a media campaign against sexual assault at WSU Pullman. A significant part of the project is evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign and exploring how this method can be used to share other health education messages.
“This is one example of the type of project we’d like to do more of. We want to do research that contributes to establishing best practices in health promotion,” said Tim Freson, associate director of research at HWS.
“Our initial goals with the launch of the research program were focused around analyzing and reducing risk factors for disease in the college-age population,” he said. “We’re still working on those projects, but now we’re also looking at research as a tool in health-promotion programming.”
 
Students contribute
As part of the goal of providing health-related educational experiences, both undergraduate and graduate students are intentionally included in research projects at HWS. Students have had opportunities to collaborate and present research in local as well as international forums.
Most recently, Amy Jemelka, a movement studies major in the College of Education, was chosen to present her research in April at the “Posters on the Hill” event at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Jemelka examined whether cardiovascular fitness and psychological factors such as depression and anxiety can predict insulin resistance and Type II diabetes. Her research was part of a larger, four-year project done in collaboration with the WSU psychology department to look at risk factors for coronary heart disease in young adults.
 
New research
In the next year, HWS will collaborate with the National Aquatic and Sports Medicine Institute (newly created in the College of Education) to research the efficacy of aquatic versus land-based exercise for individuals with asthma.
“We offer a well-rounded research experience to the students we work with,” said Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, quantitative analyst in the HWS Center for Research. “The students get training in health data collection, quantitative and psychometric analyses, and the dissemination of key research findings. Several students we’ve worked with have won awards for their research projects.”
For more information about the Center for Research HWS, please contact Tim Freson at 335-6474 or freson@wsu.edu.