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James O. Prochaska, director of the University of Rhode Island Cancer Prevention Research Center and professor of clinical and health psychology at URI, recently received the 2013 Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology award from the American Psychological Association.
Prochaska, who developed the widely used, five-stage transtheoretical model – or the TTM – of behavior change, won the award based on his long history of contributions to the scientific community. He holds a M.A. and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Wayne State University.
PBN: Would you agree that the model advocates a holistic approach to behavioral modification?
PROCHASKA: I would say one of the important differentiators with TTM and reason it has had such impact is that it’s for whole populations. Most models and most programs for wellness have been for people who are motivated to take action or ready to take action whereas TTM is for wherever somebody is at.
PBN: How has technology been used to apply TTM over the years?
PROCHASKA: We use software to bring our programs to entire populations with reduced cost [and] provide individualized and interactive programs that are unique to each individual. The digital technologies assess [an individual’s] readiness [by taking their] response and comparing it to their peers and give feedback. [The software] identifies places where more efforts are needed and gives personal activity centers and portals to progress to the next stage [as well as] show progress to the individual.
PBN: What is the most exciting recent development in cancer-prevention research?
PROCHASKA: We’re having major breakthroughs in understanding multiple behavior change and our ability to impact multiple behaviors. With the same time and effort the participant can have greater impacts at the same cost. The rule of thumb was to work on only one behavior at a time [but] when we help someone take action on one behavior like smoking, we increase the chances that they will take action on second behaviors like diet. •