Clinical Child Psychology Program

Pediatric Health Insight Team

The Pediatric Health Insight Team (PHIT) is directed by Dr. Christopher Cushing in the Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Kansas. The mission of the PHIT Lab is to improve the health and well-being of children and adolescents by studying the microtemporal biopsychosocial processes related to health behavior and symptoms of chronic illness. Variables of interest include physical activity, sedentary patterns, dietary behavior and hedonic appetite, chronic abdominal pain, and adherence to medical regimen such as inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). Our lab is especially interested in using intensive longitudinal data collected using smartphones and sensors to study fluctuations and individual differences in health behaviors. The goals of the lab are to leverage digital technology to 1) identify when youth are vulnerable to poor health decision-making and 2) support youth to make positive changes in their health behavior. Our long-term vision is that every patient will receive the right treatment, at the right time, and in the right context. If you share this vision, please contact us about how we can work together. Please visit our “Research” and “Publications” tabs to find examples of current and previous lab projects supporting our lab goals. Dr. Cushing is also an affiliated member of the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyle & Nutrition (CCHLN) which is a research organization (formed through KU Medical Center and Children’s Mercy) to support pediatric health research.

The PHIT Lab is comprised of a hard-working team of graduate and undergraduate students. Graduate students play major roles in current lab projects and are also actively engaged in a number of more independent research projects. Dr. Cushing works closely with graduate students to tailor their lab experiences to fit their personal research goals, interests, and abilities. Graduate students have had opportunities to work on grant-funded projects at the CCHLN with investigators such as Jordan Carlson, Ann Davis, and Susana Patton. Graduate students are encouraged to maintain at least one active writing project for submission to a peer-reviewed journal as either a first or second author each semester and to present their work at national conferences annually. Our lab members commonly attend annual conferences hosted by the American Psychological Association (APA), Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPPAC), Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM), just to name a few. Undergraduate research assistants aid with a variety of tasks that help our lab run smoothly, including entering data, scheduling participant visits, conducting literature reviews, planning and executing intervention protocols, and assisting with data collection. Lab undergraduates come from a variety of disciplines including individuals on premed, occupational therapy, applied behavioral science, and psychology tracks. Undergraduates do not need to be interested in psychology to join the lab and are welcome to join the biweekly lab meetings as well.


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