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Master of Public Health Program, Department of Preventive Medicine,
Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

Professor: Thomas Valente, Ph.D.
1000 South Fremont Ave., Bldg. A-5, Rm. 5131
phone: (626) 457-6678
fax: (626) 457-6699

Instructor: Darleen Schuster, MA, MPH, CHES
1000 South Fremont Ave., Bldg. A-5, Rm. 5129
phone: (626) 457-6677
fax: (626) 457-6699

Teaching Assistant: Milagros Jacobs
1000 S. Fremont Ave, Bldg. A-5, Rm. 4205
phone: (626) 457-6641
fax: (626) 457-6699

Time: Thursdays, 2:00-6:00 pm
Location: Alhambra campus (HSA), Basement Auditorium
Office Hours: Virtual office hours (24/7)


This course provides an opportunity for graduate students to explore the theoretical issues and current methodologies related to understanding and influencing health behavior change. The course will focus on the determinants of health-related behavior on various levels and from various perspectives. The course includes guest appearances by representatives from state and local agencies who relate course material to current public health challenges.


Following participation in PM 501, students will be able to:

1. Identify and discuss origins and functions of theories used to describe the health of populations.
2. Identify, discuss and apply current methodologies for influencing health-related behavior change.
3. Select and apply information gained in skill building exercises to develop their professional identity and practice.
4. Demonstrate knowledge and appreciation of the public health context in the Southern California community.


1. Glanz, K., Lewis, F. M., Rimer, B. K., (Eds.) (2002). Health Behavior and Health Education (3rd edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

2. Supplemental articles distributed in class


This course will contain four interrelated components designed to provide a general introduction to the skills and topics needed in a public health professional.

1. Content Lectures

Each week the course instructors will provide lectures on the readings and provide their insights and perspectives on the material. Faculty will lecture, but it is strongly encouraged that students be prepared to ask questions, make comments, and provide their own insights and experiences to supplement the material.

2. Skill Building

Class meetings will include a 20-30 minute segment devoted to skill building instruction and exercises. These skill building exercises are designed to provide students with an introduction to the tools needed to become a public health professional. Topics include: composing research papers, delivering presentations, fostering a professional identity etc., In general, we will provide information and resources. Each student can then determine whether he/she needs more information or assistance for each topic. Topics may be subject to change.

3. Guest Speakers

There will be numerous guest speakers invited to present their work in public health. Speakers will include academic public health researchers and others who teach courses in the MPH curriculum. Others include individuals who are employed in agencies who provide public health services in local or regional communities. These speakers are invited to provide a broad view of the public health field and may aid students in the process of identifying an area of concentration and interest.

4. Group Presentation

Each week a small group of students (about 5 per group) will lead a 30-45-minute group presentation/discussion on a topic of health behavior theory. The group will select one article from a peer-reviewed journal that corresponds to the topic of the day and provide copies to the class. (See list of peer review-reviewed journals in the health sciences). The article must be submitted for approved the week prior to the scheduled presentation. In addition to a review/critique of the author’s main findings, the group will develop an activity for the class that illustrates the theory under discussion. Examples of activities include presentation of case studies, skits, videos, group discussions, game show etc. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your creative side!


A. Exams

There will be two in-class, closed-book exams consisting of short answer questions covering lecture, course reading material and guest speaker presentations.

B. Project

This is a small group project (2 individuals) where students select an organization in the greater Los Angeles area (not-for profit or for-profit) that addresses a particular health issue of interest. Students will attend meetings (if possible), assemble a set of media materials, and conduct interviews of key informants and leaders of the organization. Linkages between interview content and the course readings and lectures will be made in a 20-page paper. Students will summarize their findings in a 10-minute group presentation. (See instructions and requirements of assignment for more information).


25% Exam 1
25% Exam 2
30% Project
10% Project Presentation
5% Article Presentation/Discussion
5% Class Participation


  • No late work will be accepted. Please plan accordingly!
  • Any student who misses an exam must present legitimate documentation of the absence. An alternative exam will be scheduled only if such documentation is provided. Please inform the instructor of any anticipated absences as soon as possible.


Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be certain the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in on the University Park campus in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number is (213) 740-0776.

TOTALe (also known as BlackBoard) is the online learning portal through which many USC professors provide electronic copies of their course materials, including syllabuses, readings, and handouts. Students may obtain access TOTALe at and use their USC computer user name and password to access the "MyUSC" portal page. All courses that students are enrolled in that are using TOTALe will appear on the page as a link. Simply follow the link to access online course materials and grades.


Week 1, August 28: Introduction to Health Education and Health Behavior:

Theory, Research and Practice

Read: Chapters 1 & 2
Skill topic: Style guidelines
Guest Lecture: Wayne Chen, LAC+USC Healthcare Network, Department of Geriatric Medicine

Week 2, September 4: Models of Individual Health Behavior:

The Health Belief Model & Theories of Reasoned Action & Planned Behavior

Read: Chapters 3 & 4; student article
Skill topic: Referencing
Guest Lecture: Marc Strassburg, Health Assessment and Epidemiology, LA County Health Department
Discussion Group: ____________________________________

Week 3, September 11: Models of Individual Health Behavior:

The Transtheoretical Model and Stages of Change

Read: Chapter 5 and pages 144-159; student article
Skill topic: Mastering PowerPoint for Presentations
Guest Lecture: Karen Bernstein, USC Institute for Prevention Research
Discussion Group: ____________________________________

Week 4, September 18: Models of Individual Health Behavior:

The Precaution Adoption Process Model

Read: Chapters 6 and 7; student article
Skill topic: Final paper explanation and conducting interviews
Guest Lecture: Felicia Zigman, Blue Shield of California
Discussion Group: ____________________________________

Week 5, September 25: Models of Interpersonal Health Behavior:

Social Cognitive Theory

Read: Chapter 8; student article
Skill topic: Student presentation of selected organization
Guest Lecture: Moraya Moini, Perinatal Advisory Council
Discussion Group: ____________________________________

Week 6, October 2: Models of Interpersonal Health Behavior:

Social Networks and Social Support

Read: Chapter 9 and pages 265-273; student article
Skill topic: Professional Identity/Networking
Guest Lecture: Deborah Kim, Health Research Association
Discussion Group: ____________________________________

Week 7, October 9: EXAM 1

Week 8, October 16: Community and Group Models of Health Behavior Change:

Community Organization and Community Building

Read: Chapter 13; student article
Skill topic: Public Speaking
Guest Lecture: Cecilia Portugal, Hispanic/Latino Tobacco Education Network
Discussion Group: ______________________________________

Week 9, October 23: Community and Group Models of Health Behavior Change:

Diffusion of Innovations

Read: Chapter 14 and pages 389-403; student article
Skill topic: Delivering Conference Presentations
Guest Lecture: Lori Miller Nascimiento, USC Family Medicine
Discussion Group: ______________________________________

Week 10, October 30: Using Theory in Research and Practice:


Read: Chapter 18; student article
Skill topic: Using Endnote for referencing
Guest Lecture: Brian Montano, Partnered for Progress
Discussion Group: ______________________________________

Week 11, November 6: Using Theory in Research and Practice:

Social Marketing

Read: Chapter 19; student article
Skill topic:
Guest Lecture: Rolinda Baker, Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, Nutrition Network
Discussion Group: ______________________________________

Week 12, November 13: Using Theory in Research and Practice:

Ecological Models of Health Behavior, Applying Theory in Diverse and Unique Populations, Communication Technology, Evaluation of Theory-Based Interventions

Read: Chapter 20 - 23; student article
Skill topic:
Guest Lecture: Mary Ann Foo, Orange County Asian & Pacific Islander Community Alliance
Discussion Group: ______________________________________

Week 13, November 20: EXAM 2

Week 14, November 27: Thanksgiving Holiday (No Class, Eat Turkey!!)

Week 15, December 4: Project Presentations

Week 16, December 11: Project Presentations
Final Papers Due in class

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