Public Health News


Dr. Jennifer Zwetsloot received the 2016-2017 BCHS Service Award for her efforts in the transitioning of the Health Promotion program to a Public Health program.  In addition, Janice Koppenhaver, the academic advisor for Public Health and Social Work, received the 2016-2017 BCHS Making a Difference Award for her dedication to advising students.

Introducing the HOPE (Healthy Outdoor Play & Exercise) Lab, a new interdisciplinary research lab in the Departments of Health & Exercise Science and Recreation Management & Physical Education

“Promoting HOPE for Children and Youth.”  Established in 2017 by Drs. Richard W. Christiana, Rebecca A. Battista, and J. Joy James, the purpose of the HOPE Lab is to investigate the role of outdoor physical activity, exercise, and play on health, the environment, and human development. The HOPE Lab brings together researchers from a diverse range of fields including public health, clinical medicine, exercise science, and recreation management to conduct interdisciplinary research to promote children’s physical activity in the outdoors and time spent in nature. Research has indicated that:

  • children spending time in nature has direct health benefits such as reduced symptoms of depression, ADHD, anxiety, etc.

  • children should participate in physical activity for 60 minutes or more per day to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, bone health, body composition, and to reduce symptoms of depression.

  • children that spend more time in the outdoors are more likely to participate in more vigorous levels of physical activity.

The HOPE Lab is continually seeking highly motivated undergraduate and graduate research assistants to aid in current projects including data collection and analysis as well as student researchers to conduct a research project of their choosing that is in line with the work of the HOPE Lab. The current projects include:

  • development of an online database of local parks and outdoor spaces for play in the High Country region of North Carolina.

  • investigating the effectiveness of a student peer Park Ambassador program at App State and the College of William & Mary to increase physical activity and improve mental health indicators among students.


New CDC Report shows deaths from cancer higher in rural America

Despite decreases in cancer death rates nationwide, a new report shows slower reduction in cancer death rates in rural America (a decrease of 1.0 percent per year) compared with urban America (a decrease of 1.6 percent per year), according to data released today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report is part of a series of MMWR studies on rural health. “While geography alone can’t predict your risk of cancer, it can impact prevention, diagnosis and treatment opportunities – and that’s a significant public health problem in the U.S.,” said CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. “Many cancer cases and deaths are preventable and with targeted public health efforts and interventions, we can close the growing cancer gap between rural and urban Americans.” These data provide a clear direction for the work that needs to be done to reduce cancer disparities throughout the U.S., and provide the foundation for proven strategies that could be implemented. Proven strategies to improve health-related behaviors, increased use of vaccinations that prevent infections that can cause cancer, and use of cancer screening tests – particularly among people that live in rural and underserved areas – can help reduce the rates of cancer and cancer deaths across America.