Debbi Main, PhD
Professor Emeritus
Health & Behavioral Sciences

Office Hours:
By appointment

Expertise Areas:
Social psychology, built and social environmental influences on health/health inequity, quality and outcomes of team-based care, community-based participatory research, mixed methods

Ph.D., Social Psychology, University of Colorado, 1987
M.A., Social Psychology, University of Colorado, 1983
B.S., Psychology, San Diego State University, 1980

Together, my strong background as a methodologist (both quantitative and qualitative) and personal research interest in understanding and measuring the influence of social and structural factors on health and health care has resulted in two primary research focus areas: (1) understanding the influence of structures and processes to improve the quality and outcomes of medical care and (2) understanding the influence of built and social environments on health and health disparities. My research focus on improving health care quality has involved local and national collaborative projects with diverse medical disciplines such as primary care, oncology, psychiatry, cardiology, and surgery. The majority of my current research involves a large-scale, five-neighborhood community based participatory research (CBPR) initiative in the Denver metropolitan area of Colorado. Through this initiative, we’ve developed a strong, long-lasting community-academic partnership called Taking Neighborhood Health to Heart; received funding from National Institutes of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Colorado Health Foundation and others; collected extension data on the health of people and neighborhoods; and are using and sharing this information for action, building new knowledge and continued funding. This model of participatory research is reflected in other aspects of my research collaborations. I’ve been involved in research and evaluation projects where we’ve engaged communities in designing colorectal screening messages in rural Colorado; involved barbershop owners in supporting ongoing CVD screening and follow-up within their shops; involved youth-serving community-based organizations in new partnerships to enroll kids and families in public health insurance; and, a large community-based organization charged with promoting health among African American communities.

Current and Recent Funding Includes:

1UL1RR025780 (Sokol) 5/19/08 – 4/30/13

National Center for Research Resources

Partnership of Academicians and Communities for Translation (PACT) Council

The PACT Council is a Committee of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI), and is responsible for awarding pilot grants that support community-academic partnerships to promote the use of community-based participatory research in addressing health care disparities. Within the Community Engagement Core of the CCTSI, Dr. Main directs the pilot grant program on behalf of the PACT Council and, until recently, directed the Scientific Staff.

3530082 (Main) 7/1/08 – 12/31/11

The Colorado Trust

Expanding Outreach and Enrollment for Children and Youth Evaluation Project

Specific aim of this 3½ -year project is to conduct a formative and summative evaluation of 18 non-traditional community-based outreach programs and their impact on enrollment, retention and utilization of public health insurance. Evaluation results will be used to inform policies and improve programs aimed at reducing disparities in health care coverage, access, and use. Dr. Main oversees all aspects of the project.

5R21HL083866 (Main) 6/1/06 – 5/31/09

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

Reducing CVD Risk And Health Disparities Through Active Living Neighborhoods

Specific aims of this mixed methods project include: 1) Formalize a community-based participatory research process to study disparities in use of built (active living) environment, physical activity and cardiovascular risk, 2) Conduct an observational study, using community- and culturally relevant quantitative and qualitative methods to describe multi-level factors associated with the built environment, physical activity and CVD risk. Dr. Main led all aspects of this project.

CTCN 2004-082 (Main) 9/1/04-9/30/08

The Colorado Trust

Improve Quality of Patient Care Initiatives, Evaluation

This project involved the multi-method evaluation of The Colorado Trust’s Improving Quality Initiative, targeting adult and pediatric immunization as well as stroke and cardiovascular guidelines. Dr. Main oversaw all aspects of the project.

Main DS, Cohen SJ, DiClemente CC. (1995) "Measuring physician readiness to change cancer screening: Preliminary results." Am J Prevent Med, 11, 54-58.

Bayliss, EA, Steiner, JF, Fernald, DH, Crane, LA, and Main, DS. (2003) "Descriptions of barriers to self-care by patients with comorbid chronic diseases." Annals of Family Medicine, 1: 15-21.

Main DS, Cavender TA, Nowels CT, Henderson WG, Fink AS, Khuri SF. (2007). "Relationship of processes and structures of care in general surgery to post-operative outcomes: A qualitative analysis." J Am Coll Surg. 204: 1147-1156.

Main DS, Henderson WG, Pratte K, Cavender TA, et al. (2007). "Relationship of processes and structures of care in general surgery to post-operative outcomes: A descriptive analysis." J Am Coll Surg 204: 1157-1165.

Main, DS, Graham D, Nutting PA, Nease DE, Dickinson WP, Gallagher K. (2009) "Integrating practice change processes into quality improvement of depression care." Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf July 35: 351-357.

Main DS, Iverson DC, McGloin J, Banspach SW, Collins JL, Rugg DL, Kolbe LJ (1994) "Preventing HIV infection among adolescents: Evaluation of a school-based education curriculum." Prev Med, 23, 409-17.

Main DS (2002) "Commentary: understanding the effects of peer education as a health promotion strategy." Health Educ Behav 29, :424-6.

Main DS, Nowels CT, Cavender TA, Etschmaier M, Steiner JF. (2005) "A qualitative study of work and work return in cancer survivors." Psycho-Oncology, 14: 992-1004.

Westfall JM, VanHorst R, Main DSHerbert C (2006). "When CBPR met PBRN: Community-based participatory research in practice-based research networks." Annals of Family Medicine, 4: 8-14.

Main, DS, Whitley, EM, Rincon A, et al. "Cutting cardiovascular risk in barbershops." (2009) J Men’s Hlth; 4: 325-330.

CE 5804/HBSC 7400: Defining and Measuring Sustainability (Co-Taught; Lead Community Engagement Core)
HBSC 7001: Colloquium Series in the Health and Behavioral Sciences
HBSC 7111: Applications in the Health and Behavioral Sciences