Research & Practice

Funded Research and Training Projects

The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS) has an extensive array of funded research and training projects. Our faculty and staff are skilled in the use of quantitative and qualitative methods, and the department is particularly well known for its community-based participatory research strategies, designed to improve the health and welfare of communities.

Research Strengths

  • Health equity
  • LGBTQ health issues
  • Violence prevention
  • Harm reduction
  • Health behavior
  • Chronic disease management
  • Community-based participatory research and practice
  • Health communications
  • Mental health
  • Global health
  • Health promotion
  • Clinical decision making
  • Modeling dynamic systems
  • Implementation and evaluation
  • Maternal and child health
  • Aging and health

Research Highlights

  • Working to create a comprehensive and enhanced understanding of the reasons for homicides in Pittsburgh through the Community Violence Prevention Project (VPP) at the Center for Health Equity . Through partnership and collaboration with local organizations including adult and juvenile court, county jail, city and county social service providers, trauma physicians, anti-gun violence advocates, and community members, the VPP is tackling the tough question of what needs to be done to reduce the number of homicides and gun-related injuries in our communities. Key findings from 2012 project activities can be found in the Community Violence Prevention Project: Findings Report (2012).
  • Conducting a countywide health survey of adolescents 14-19 years old beginning in November 2013. The Healthy Allegheny Teen Survey (HATS) is voluntary. Participants are randomly selected and receive a $20 gift card in the mail after completing the survey. Information collected is confidential and will help the ACHD and local health organizations better serve youth in our communities. Click here for more information.
  • Completion of the first Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey for the Allegheny County Department of Health
  • Receipt of a CDC Prevention Research Center to investigate public health and aging, in collaboration with the Department of Epidemiology
  • Developing new research foci in computational modeling, Internet interventions, lifespan trajectories for drug abuse and mental health, and worksite health promotion
  • Establishment of the Certificate in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health and Wellness, the first such certificate program in the world
  • Development of a large NIH- and foundation-funded research portfolio
  • Establishment of the Certificate in Community-based Participatory Research and Practice, the first such program in the country


  • The Office of Health Survey Research, which operates the computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system, is a permanent facility that provides CATI services to faculty and to the wider University community. In addition to a direct data-entry system for telephone interviewing, the office provides questionnaire design consultation, survey management, and computer-ready data, among other data-collection services.
  • The Institute for Evaluation Science in Community Health, created in collaboration with the Department of Health Policy and Management and the University Center for Social and Urban Research, has as its primary goal the advancement of evaluation science, scholarship, and practice through regional, national, and international research, training, and consultation. Services include survey research, community needs assessment, qualitative/ethnographic data collection analysis, and community-based participatory research.
  • The BCHS Concept Mapping Institute has been designated a concept mapping center of practice by the Concept Systems Centers of Practice Program. Concept mapping is a participatory, mixed-method research approach that yields a conceptual framework for how a group views a particular topic or aspect of a topic. It has been used in public health to study issues such as intimate partner violence, birth outcomes, asthma, general community health, and barriers to breast cancer screening and treatment. The institute provides access to concept mapping software at discounted licensing rates, technical support for concept mapping research, and basic and advanced training for those interested in using the method.
  • FRED - Framework for Reconstructing Epidemiological Dynamics

    FRED is an open source modeling system that supports research on the dynamics of infectious disease epidemics and the interacting effects of mitigation strategies, viral evolution, and personal health behavior. 
    • Project TYCHO 
      Project TYCHO advances the availability and use of public health data for science and policy making. The database includes data from all weekly notifiable disease reports for the U.S. from 1888 to the present, with additional U.S. and international data released twice annually. 

    Funding Organizations

    • National Institutes of Health
      • National Institute on Aging
      • National Cancer Institute
      • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Pennsylvania Department of Health
    • United Way
    • Asbury Heights Senior Living Community
    • Staunton Farm Foundation

    Affiliates and Community Partners

    • Asbury Heights
    • Pittsburgh/Allegheny County Healthy Start
    • Pittsburgh Early Head Start
    • EveryChild, Inc.
    • Allegheny County Health Department
    • University of Pittsburgh Centers
      • Center for Healthy Aging
      • Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC)
      • Center for Public Health Practice
      • Center for Public Health Preparedness
      • Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute
    • Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh
    • Pittsburgh AIDS Taskforce
    • The Birmingham Clinic

    Read more about our active and recent projects.