Research

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We believe that progress in promoting human health and wellbeing will be best achieved by working in partnership with other scientists, mental health clinicians, educators, healthcare professionals, and community leaders.

Our work is broad in scope, from basic research to understand the causes of human behavior, to applied research to develop programs to promote behavior change. The scientists and their interests drive our research program. ORI’s current work is grouped into four research categories. There is much collaboration across research areas as scientists share their expertise with one another.

Areas of Research

Promoting Healthy Child Development

Since the 1970’s, ORI researchers have studied the factors that lead to children’s social and academic success, as well as what leads to problem behaviors such as substance use, delinquency, and school failure. These ORI scientists partner with parents, schools, and communities to develop, adapt, implement, and test evidence-based programs to improve child outcomes and prevent the onset of problem behaviors.

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Promoting Physical Health

ORI researchers study ways to keep people of all ages physically healthy. This research area includes the study and promotion of physical activity among youth and the elderly, research on how personality affects physical health and wellbeing, an examination of the causes of childhood obesity, and development of programs designed to prevent obesity onset.

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Promoting Psychological Health

ORI scientists study emotional and behavioral health in order to understand what makes people vulnerable to serious mental health disorders. Researchers also examine the factors that increase people’s ability to cope with daily challenges. An important component of research in this area is developing and evaluating interventions for the prevention and treatment of disorders.

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Treating Tobacco, Alcohol, and Illegal Drug Use

ORI’s work in this area dates from research funding obtained in the late 1970’s to study tobacco use in youth. Since then, research interests have broadened to include community-and-school-based prevention programs of youth alcohol and other drug use. Two important ORI longitudinal studies – one on peer and family influences on youth drug use, and the other on young children’s knowledge of and intent to use alcohol and drugs -- have provided valuable guidance in the development of substance abuse prevention programs.

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