Hill researches adolescent health behaviors

April 26, 2017
Dr. Julie Hill

Dr. Julie Hill, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, has had a lifelong interest in health behaviors of adolescents and emerging adults. Her research on this and other topics was recently published in three peer-reviewed journals.

“I was drawn to come to UW-Platteville because it really values good teaching and is a place where I am able to use my personal research to help with the undergraduate education process, as opposed to trying to use my research solely to push the field forward,” said Hill. “UW-Platteville is an institution that is all about our undergraduates and that’s our top priority in class. Then, when we do research, we’re doing it as a tool for teaching our undergraduates, not just for our own personal gain.”

“The Department of Psychology values Julie’s work, as scholarship and research inform teaching and enrich the educational experiences of students,” said Dr. Lizzy Gates, chair of the Department of Psychology at UW-Platteville. “Julie does an excellent job of mentoring psychology majors and involving them in her research. She is a model of how to conduct research with the help of undergraduate students.” 

In the first article, “Evaluating a pregnancy and STI prevention programme in rural, at-risk, middle school girls in the USA,” published in Health Education Journal, Hill and three co-authors evaluated Giving Our Girls Inspiration and Resources for Lasting Self-Esteem, or GO GIRLS, an after-school pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infection prevention program, in a sample of high-risk middle school girls living in rural, south central Florida using quasi-experimental methods. They targeted this area of Florida because it had higher rates of teenage pregnancy and poverty and lower educational attainment in comparison with state averages.

“Results of the study showed that at follow-up, girls who participated in GO GIRLS had attitudes more accepting of delaying sexual intercourse than the girls who did not participate,” said Hill. “However, participants did not differ in their levels of sex refusal skills.” She noted that pregnancy and STI prevention for rural adolescents is rarely studied, so this was a needed contribution, but more work is necessary.

In the second article, “Evaluating a community-based pregnancy prevention program using a quasi-experimental design and propensity scores,” Hill and a co-author conducted a peer-reviewed case study about the previous study, mentioned above. The article was published in SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2, a collection of research cases designed for use in research methods courses.

“In this article, my co-author and I described the process of conducting an evaluation of a teen pregnancy prevention program,” said Hill. “The article pays special attention to some of the obstacles we encountered conducting an evaluation in a real-world setting and how we overcame these obstacles in order to produce the best quality evaluation possible.” 

In the third article, “Impact of knowledge, self-efficacy and perceived importance on steps taken toward cancer prevention among college men and women,” a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Cancer Education, Hill and two co-authors investigated the roles of knowledge of cancer prevention, perceived importance of cancer prevention and self-efficacy to engage in prevention steps in order to predict college students’ actual engagement in cancer prevention behaviors across six different cancers: skin, human papillomavirus-related, liver, lung, breast and testicular cancers.

Hill and her co-author were particularly interested to find out if the different types of cognitions predicted CPB – an acronym they created for cancer prevention behaviors – similarly for all six cancers.

“We found that having a higher level of self-efficacy to prevent the cancer predicted having engaged in more CPB for all cancers,” said Hill. “Increase in knowledge predicted an increase in the frequency of CPB for only skin and HPV-related cancers while perceived importance of prevention only predicted skin cancer CPB.”

Hill said that typically, her research helps her keep her Adolescent Psychology class current with the newest facts and findings about adolescents’ and emerging adults’ health behaviors.

She noted that writing an article for SAGE’s Research Methods Cases was a new type of writing project for her. “By participating in the project, I discovered a new teaching tool that I can use to inform my research methods courses,” Hill said. “There’s always a feeling of pride and accomplishment whenever research is published – and also some excitement to be able to move on to a new project.”

Currently, through an independent study course, Hill and three of her students are conducting research on sexuality development and hook-up behaviors in college students. The research is from adolescence (approximately 12-18 years old) through the emerging adulthood time period (18-25 years old). Recently, the students received funding from the 2017 Pioneer Summer Research Funding from the Office of Provost Dr. Elizabeth Throop to continue conducting the study this summer. 


For more information about Hill, go to: /news/pioneer-spotlight-julie-hill.

Written by: Laurie A. Hamer, Communications Specialist, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu





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