The 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.  This work has included examination of risk for pediatric obesity and overweight, predictors and correlates of adherence to medical regimens, and issues related to the measurement and prediction of health-related quality of life. 

In 2018 we began recruiting for a study to further develop a measure of digital stress for adolescents and young adults.  Digital stress has been defined as the “stress and anxiety that accompanies notifications from or use of social media.”  Empirical studies have suggested small but significant associations between social media use and depression/anxiety/poor quality of life among adolescents and young adults.  Some studies have suggested that digital stress mediates (explains) the association between social media use and negative outcomes.  Unfortunately, there is currently no consistent and reliable way of measuring digital stress, which limits the degree to which studies can accurately assess the correlational or causal associations between social media use and outcomes.

Get Involved!

We are currently recruiting for a series of focus groups that will help us define the constructs, and finalize the items for our measure of digital stress. Upon completion of the draft measure, we will collect data from about 300 students for a confirmatory/exploratory factor analysis, after which we will collect data to test specific models that will help us understand the mechanisms by which digital stress might influence QOL.

If you are interested in participating in our digital stress studies, please email for more information.

If you are a student enrolled at KU and wish to assist with ongoing research in this area, please contact Dr. Ric Steele.

Digital Learning Photo

Graduate and Undergraduate students are encouraged and expected to present findings at conferences and conventions, and in peer-referred journals. Please see below for some representative publications from the lab:

**Beauchamp, M., *Mitchell, T.B. & Steele, R.G. (2016). Effects of weight cue reactivity on self-report measures of body dissatisfaction. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 38(3), 485-492. doi: 10.1007/s10862-015-9532-8

**McGuire, A.B. & Steele, R.G. (2016). Impact of social networking sites on children in military families. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 19(3), 259-269. doi: 10.1007/s10567-016-0206-1

*Noser, A.E., & Steele, R.G. (2016). Emotional impact of teasing moderates the association between teasing frequency and self-worth in youth. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25(8), 2387-2394.  doi: 10.1007/s10826-016-0420-y

Steele, R.G., *Gayes, L.A., Dalton, W.T., Maphis, L., Conway-Williams, E., & Smith, C. (2016).  Change in health-related quality of life in the context of pediatric obesity interventions: A meta-analytic review. Health Psychology, 35(10), 1097-1109. doi: 10.1037/hea0000362

*Mitchell, T.M. & Steele, R.G. (2017).  Latent profiles of physical activity and sedentary behavior in elementary school-age youth: Associations with health-related quality of life. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsx149

*Marker, A.M, Steele, R.G., & *Noser, A.E. (in press).  Physical activity and health-related quality of life in children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis.  Health Psychology.  doi: 10.1037/hea0000653

* indicates graduate student author/co-author

** indicates undergraduate student author/co-author