We Create Healthier Communities

In the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, it's our mission to improve and promote health and equity by engaging individuals, communities, and systems through our research, teaching, and practice. 

We prepare students to apply theories, concepts, and methods of the various social and behavioral science disciplines to the development, implementation, and evaluation of programs that prevent illness and promote health. BCHS applies research on the dynamics of health behavior change to improve community health.

All diseases are shaped by behavioral and sociocultural factors. To improve health outcomes and promote health, we believe these diseases must be understood as a function of the individual, family, organizations, communities, and public policy. This system is dynamic and shapes things like access to care and adherence to care recommendations. Accordingly, the behavioral and community health sciences within public health assess the health needs of populations and communities, design interventions to prevent disease and increase adherence based on social/behavioral theory, and use research methods to evaluate these programs and recommend improvement, often within community-based settings.

The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences emphasizes community-based programs and works with grass roots, nonprofit, private, philanthropic, and governmental organizations. We also collaborate extensively with other departments and centers within Pitt Public Health and throughout the University to carry out the teaching, research, and service mission.

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BCHS graduate outcomes

Wondering what BCHS students do after graduation? Check out the latest outcomes survey to find out the top employment sectors, job titles, employers, and more for recent BCHS graduates.

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Harm Reduction Approach: Implications for the COVID-19 Pandemic

BCHS's Mary Hawk and Harvard'...
Harm Reduction Approach: Implications for the COVID-19 Pandemic

BCHS's Mary Hawk and Harvard's Julia Marcus introduce the harm reduction approach and describe how the principles can be applied to public health messaging during COVID-19. They discuss how to balance general uncertainty, concerns about what is best for population and personal health, and the tensi... (10/12/2020)

'I won't be used as a guinea pig for white people' - Black Pittsburghers think twice about vaccine trials

NEW YORK TIMES - Mistrust of ...
'I won't be used as a guinea pig for white people' - Black Pittsburghers think twice about vaccine trials

NEW YORK TIMES - Mistrust of vaccines runs deep in African-American communities. Against formidable odds, Fr. Paul Abernathy and his teams are trying to convince residents fo Pittsburgh's Black neighborhoods to volunteer for trials testing a COVID-19 shot. “The community health deputies have been i... (10/07/2020)

Burke and Baumann take filmmaking to the health sciences

Jessica Burke and Sara Bauman...
Burke and Baumann take filmmaking to the health sciences

Jessica Burke and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) have created a new form of public health research called Collaborative Filmmaking. The six-step process engages its participants to create a detailed, multimedia form of study rarely seen in the field. Baumann said she knew Pitt was the right fit for h... (10/07/2020)

Revisiting Freedom House Ambulance: A Call for a Modern and Inclusive Public Health Initiative (video)

Freedom House Enterprises am...
Revisiting Freedom House Ambulance: A Call for a Modern and Inclusive Public Health Initiative (video)

Freedom House Enterprises ambulance services was a pioneering program designed to be representative of the community it served (Pittsburgh's Hill District), provide a pathway for upward mobility, and address a severe disparity in pre-hospital care. The collaboration between Phil Hallen, Peter S... (09/30/2020)

BCHS alum joins staff at Decker College new rehab therapies program

Nicolle Nestler (BCHS ’11) jo...
BCHS alum joins staff at Decker College new rehab therapies program

Nicolle Nestler (BCHS ’11) joined Binghamton University in November 2019 as a senior staff assistant for both Decker’s School of Rehabilitation Science, established the same year, and its Master of Public Health program.   (09/23/2020)