Youth and adults in 21st-century society are exposed to various types of media and technology—including social media, Internet, television, films, music, video games, and advertisements—during the majority of their waking hours.
Studies suggest that some of these exposures negatively influence key health behaviors such as substance use, diet and exercise patterns, sexual behavior, and proper use of evidence-based treatments. However, other media messages such as public service announcements—and technological advances such as health-promoting video games or dedicated therapeutic social networks—may improve health outcomes. Furthermore, educational and policy-related interventions may be effective at both buffering negative influences and bolstering positive ones.
Therefore, the first mission of the Center is to conduct research investigating associations between media messages, technological innovations, and health outcomes. Media messages in which we are particularly interested include social media, Internet, television, films, music, video games, and advertisements of all types. Health outcomes in which we are particularly interested relate to substance use (including tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use), mental health, sexual behavior, violence, and communications between patients and health-care providers.
The second component of our mission is to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions related to media messages and technological advances with the goal of improving health outcomes. Interventions may involve education, policy implementation, or other organizational or procedural change.
We also aim to provide educational experiences related to the research and intervention missions to trainees and students throughout the University of Pittsburgh. For example, we will provide research mentoring and lecturing in appropriate courses throughout the University.
In order to realize this mission, we envision that:
- We will maintain a funded center with strong support in the areas of quantitative and qualitative methodology, intervention development and evaluation, technology, clinical relevance, and administration.
- We will demonstrate an ability to productively disseminate research findings and interact with researchers, practitioners, and the public.
- We will demonstrate, via interventions, measurable improvements in health outcomes.
- We will provide meaningful, interdisciplinary educational experiences to trainees and students throughout the University of Pittsburgh and across the world.
In carrying out our activities, we are guided by the following values:
- Integrity: We conduct our work with integrity, honesty, and fairness. We will meet the highest ethical and professional standards.
- Excellence: We constantly pursue excellence and quality through teamwork, continuous improvement, customer and collaborator satisfaction, innovation, and prudent resource management.
- Communication: We maximize our trust and efficiency by keeping in close communication and contact, especially when questions and concerns arise.
- Compassion: We treat all people as dignified individuals, including our team members, colleagues, administrative contacts, and students. We respect diversity in all its forms.
- Enjoyment: We achieve our goals while working in a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere.
The Center is positioned across the schools of the Health Sciences (Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Rehabilitation Sciences, Public Health, and Dental Medicine) at the University of Pittsburgh and is affiliated with the Pitt Health Policy Institute. The Center collaborates with faculty and students across the entire University and maintains additional strong ties throughout the local, regional, national, and international community.