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KHP Faculty Member Helps Promote Smoking Cessation

Dr. Melinda Ickes, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, is part of a team working with UK employees to promote smoking cessation. Employees can sign up now through Jan. 16 for the University of Kentucky Quit & Win Contest, sponsored by the UK Tobacco-free Campus Initiative and UK HealthCare. There will be five prizes awarded, including a first prize of $1,000. Registration began Dec. 15, 2014 and will continue through Jan. 16, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.  The 30-day contest begins at 5:00 p.m. Jan. 16, 2015 and ends Feb. 15, 2015.

Ickes recently shared about her work:

It’s always nice to read about collaboration that’s taking place across colleges at UK.  How did you team up with the College of Nursing?  Tell about your unique perspectives and collaboration.

I am a faculty associate with the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy and I have been collaborating with Dr. Ellen Hahn and the College of Nursing Tobacco Policy Research Program for a few years. Initially, the collaboration began related to work on UK’s tobacco-free policy. However, I have worked with the team of very talented and successful scholars on several tobacco-related projects since that time. Our common interests in tobacco prevention and tobacco control make it an ideal partnership. A goal of the tobacco-free policy is to create a healthy place to live, work and learn. Part of that entails promoting our current tobacco treatment resources and incorporating innovative ways to encourage others to quit tobacco. The Quit & Win contest is another unique partnership merging the efforts of the Tobacco-free Task Force, the tobacco treatment specialists, and researchers working on tobacco prevention and treatment.

What are your research interests (both tobacco and non-tobacco related)?

I have fairly diverse research interests, but all revolve around the concepts of behavior change and health promotion. Specifically, I am interested in college health promotion. Recently, I have been honing in on tobacco use and prevention, which stemmed from my work on tobacco-free campus policies. I am also very much interested in obesity prevention, both at the individual level and larger policy level. I am currently working on a grant related to physical activity policy in rural Kentucky, which actually ties lessons learned from my policy work in tobacco to my passion for obesity prevention. It is great to see these worlds come together.

Do you ever integrate these efforts into your teaching?  If so, tell us about it.

I do tie my research and the importance of collaboration into my teaching. I share current research I am working on with students. I might also share data and have them problem solve how they might disseminate to stakeholders and/or develop a health promotion strategy based on the given information. It is an excellent learning opportunity when the students realize these data have been collected recently and then they are given the opportunity to interpret. One specific example is the Program Planning course I taught last fall. We worked with the University Health Service (UHS) to develop health promotion programs based on results from a recent health behavior survey, which identified areas of need with UK college students. The programs were then presented to UHS stakeholders to determine what would be best moving forward.