Pediatric Health Promotion and Maintenance Lab

As part of the KU Clinical Child Psychology Program, the Pediatric Health Promotion and Maintenance Lab is dedicated to the application of behavioral science to promote child and adolescent health. The lab is organized and directed by Dr. Ric Steele, a member of the faculty of the Clinical Child Psychology doctoral graduate program at the University of Kansas.  Dr. Steele’s program of research is broadly concerned with the promotion of physical and mental health in children, adolescents, and families across a continuum of health risk categories.  Although Dr. Steele sometimes conducts and directs research on other health conditions, his current research focus seeks to develop and evaluate methods to promote weight related health, good nutrition, and exercise in children and adolescents.

Current projects include longitudinal studies to examine the psychosocial predictors of physical activity in elementary and middle-school aged children.  Previous work has established that individual factors, such as physical activity self-efficacy and attitudes about physical activity can interact with psychosocial variables (such as peer victimization and weight-related teasing) to influence concurrent and subsequent physical activity. Our current work seeks to further examine the roles of attitudes, emotional state, perceptions of social norms, modeling and peer influence, and other aspects of physical health (including sleep duration and sleep hygiene) on physical activity.    

The Pediatric Health Promotion and Maintenance Lab also examines the impact of interventions for pediatric obesity.  Positively Fit is a 10 week family-based intervention that uses behavioral principles to increase physical activity and improve nutrition in children and adolescents.  Positively Fit was developed by Steele and his team over the past 10 years.  For more information about the Positively Fit Program is available at the program’s website

Graduate and Undergraduate students are encouraged and expected to present findings at conferences and conventions, and in peer-referred journals. 

Representative publications from the lab include:

Steele, R. G., *Aylward, B. S., *Jensen, C. D., *Cushing, C. C., Davis, A. M., & Bovaird, J. A. (2012).  Comparison of a family-based group intervention for youths with obesity to a brief family intervention: A practical clinical trial of Positively Fit. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 37(1), 53-63.  doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/JSR057*Gayes, L. A. & Steele, R. G. (2014). A meta-analysis of motivational interviewing interventions for pediatric health behavior change. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 82(3), 521-535. doi: 10.1037/a0035917

Steele, R. G., Jensen, C. D., *Gayes, L., & **Liebold, H. (2014). Medium is the message: Moderate parental control of feeding correlates with improved weight outcome in a pediatric obesity intervention. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 39 (7), 708-717. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsu035.

Wu, Y. P., Steele, R. G., Connelly, M., Palermo, T. M., & Ritterband, L. (2014). Pediatric eHealth Interventions: Common challenges during development, implementation, and dissemination.  Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 39 (6), 612-623. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsu022

Janicke, D. M., Steele, R. G., *Gayes, L. A., Lim, C. S., Clifford, L. M., Schneider, E. M., Carmody, J. K. &.  Westen, S.C. (2014). Systematic review and meta-analysis of comprehensive behavioral family lifestyle interventions addressing pediatric obesity.  Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 39(8), 809-825. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsu023

*Gayes, L. A., & Steele, R. G. (2015). Comparison of two measures of weight criticism in youth: Associations with physical activity engagement and attitudes, weight status, and health-related quality of life. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 40(2), 228-237. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsu080

Van Allen, J.M., *Borner, K.B., *Gayes, L.A., & Steele, R.G. (2015). Weighing physical activity: The impact of a family-based group lifestyle intervention for pediatric obesity on participants’ physical activity. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 40(2), 193-202. 


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