Behavioral health

This program focuses on developing novel, theory-based behavioral interventions for tobacco cessation targeting Alaska Natives, pregnant women, adolescents, smokers with psychiatric comorbidity and the social network of smokers.

Christi A. Patten, Ph.D., professor of psychology and a career scientist, directs the program, located in the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.


  • Support-person effectiveness study. This large, randomized trial enrolled 534 nonsmokers (or support people), and the research team observed that a telephone intervention was effective for promoting smoker use of the state-funded Minnesota Tobacco Quitline. A subsequent large-scale effectiveness trial enrolled 1,020 nonsmokers, and the results are underway.
  • Cancer health disparities among Alaska Natives. For more than 13 years, the team has had a successful partnership with the Alaska Native community in western Alaska. A long-term goal is to establish a research infrastructure and develop evidence-based programs to assist in cancer prevention and to reduce tobacco-related health disparities among Alaska Natives. Community research priorities are focused on reducing tobacco use among pregnant women and youth.
  • Mammography screening among Navajo women. Additional studies have developed and tested family-based interventions to promote mammography screening among Navajo women.
  • Wellness coaching for depressed female smokers. In this project, researchers are developing and pilot testing a supervised, vigorous exercise intervention for depressed female smokers utilizing wellness coaching. The team will assess the acute effects of exercise versus health education on craving, desire to smoke and mood. Researchers are also hoping to learn more about how changes in mood and smoking may affect rates of inflammation.



Investigator & Role Grant Title Funding Source Duration
Christi A. Patten, Ph.D., principal investigator Community Intervention to Reduce Tobacco Use Among Pregnant Alaska Native Women National Cancer Institute 07/2013-07/2018
Christi A. Patten, Ph.D., principal investigator Exploring Markers of Inflammation Among Women Smokers With Depression Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology Small Grant Program 07/2013-06/2015
Christi A. Patten, Ph.D., principal investigator Biomarker Feedback to Motivate Tobacco Cessation in Pregnant Alaska Native Women (MAW) National Cancer Institute 09/2010-08/2015