The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences has launched the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, which will examine the effects of traditional and social media on behavior and health across a wide range of disciplines.
For example, university officials say center researchers might examine whether celebratory music and a thousand “points” per pill might encourage a patient with heart disease to take her medication, or if an overweight man might be helped to shed pounds if friends congratulate him on social media.
Conversely, the center may also study whether song lyrics glorifying alcohol use inspire binge drinking in teens, or if continuous exposure to images of negative TV news footage influence depression or anxiety.
Brian A. Primack, M.D., will direct the new center, which is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.
“Internet, social media, television, films, music, and video games are all examples of media and technology that can affect our health and wellness,” said Primack, associate professor of medicine, pediatrics, and clinical and translational science in Pitt’s School of Medicine. “These exposures may have positive or negative influences, and educational and policy-related interventions may be effective at buffering negative influences and bolstering positive ones.”
In addition to performing research and developing and testing interventions, CRMTH will include an educational component to integrate an awareness of the impact of media and technology on health for students in Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences.
CRMTH is funded by NIH, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the ABMRF/The Alcohol Research Foundation, and pilot grants from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and the Pitt Health Policy Institute.
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