Cheryl Merzel

Cheryl Merzel
Cheryl Merzel

Director of Doctor of Public Health Program

Clinical Associate Professor of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Community Health Science & Practice Concentration

Professional overview

Cheryl Merzel has over 30 years’ experience in public health research, evaluation, program development, advocacy, and education. She is Director of the GPH Doctor of Public Health program. Previously, she served as the School’s MPH Program Director and as Director of Educational Advancement and Assessment. In addition to NYU, she has served on the public health faculty at a number of institutions including Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the City University of New York, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Merzel is currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Pedagogy in Health Promotion: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Merzel’s work focuses on the design and evaluation of community-based health promotion interventions and development of community capacity to engage in efforts to improve population health. Past areas of research include adolescent health, maternal and child health, and tobacco control. Her recent work involves developing approaches to support public health practitioners and communities in translating research to relevant, evidence-based practice. Dr. Merzel is committed to improving public health pedagogy through scholarship and innovative teaching practice. 

Education

BA, Biology, Yeshiva University, New York, NY
MS, Jewish Education, Yeshiva University, New York, NY
MPH, Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY
DrPH, Sociomedical Sciences/Political Science, Columbia University, New York, NY

Honors and awards

Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, Delta Beta Chapter (2016)
Calderone Award for Junior Faculty Development, Columbia University (2000)
Marissa de Castro Benton Dissertation Prize, Columbia University (1988)
Alumni Scholarship, Columbia University (1987)

Areas of research and study

Community-based health promotion
Community-based intervention design and evaluation
Community-based participatory research
Dissemination and Implementation of Evidence-based Programs
Public Health Pedagogy

Publications

Publications

Forming the Future: Undergraduate Pedagogy in Health Promotion and Public Health

Merzel, C. R.

Publication year

2021

Journal title

Pedagogy in Health Promotion

Volume

7

Issue

3

Page(s)

167-168

Looking to the Future: Reimagining Pedagogy in Health Promotion and Public Health

Merzel, C. R.

Publication year

2021

Journal title

Pedagogy in Health Promotion

Volume

7

Issue

2

Page(s)

87-88

The Road to a New Normal: Reflecting on Pedagogy During a Pandemic

Merzel, C. R.

Publication year

2021

Journal title

Pedagogy in Health Promotion

Volume

7

Issue

1

Page(s)

3-4

Advancing Pedagogy in Health Promotion: Innovations in Student Participation, Place-Based Pedagogy, and Service Learning

Merzel, C. R.

Publication year

2020

Journal title

Pedagogy in Health Promotion

Volume

6

Issue

2

Page(s)

83-84

Message From the Editor-in-Chief

Merzel, C. R.

Publication year

2020

Journal title

Pedagogy in Health Promotion

Volume

6

Issue

3

Page(s)

155

Message From the Editor-in-Chief

Merzel, C.

Publication year

2020

Journal title

Pedagogy in Health Promotion

Volume

6

Issue

1

Page(s)

4-5

Message From the Editor-in-Chief: Pedagogy for a Pandemic and Beyond

Merzel, C. R.

Publication year

2020

Journal title

Pedagogy in Health Promotion

Volume

6

Issue

4

Page(s)

231-232

Pedagogical Scholarship in Public Health: A Call for Cultivating Learning Communities to Support Evidence-Based Education

Becoming a Professional: Online Discussion Boards as a Tool for Developing Professionalism among MPH Students

Merzel, C., & Goodman, A.

Publication year

2016

Journal title

Pedagogy in Health Promotion

Volume

2

Issue

3

Page(s)

154-160

Smoking cessation among U.S. Hispanic/Latino adults: Findings from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL)

Merzel, C. R., Isasi, C. R., Strizich, G., Castañeda, S. F., Gellman, M., Maisonet Giachello, A. L., Lee, D. J., Penedo, F. J., Perreira, K. M., & Kaplan, R. C.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

Preventive Medicine

Volume

81

Page(s)

412-419
Abstract
Abstract
This paper examines patterns of smoking cessation among Hispanics/Latinos with particular attention to gender, acculturation, and national background. Data are from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, a population-based study of 16,415 non-institutionalized Hispanics/Latinos ages 18-74 from a stratified random sample of households in Chicago, Miami, the Bronx, and San Diego. Face-to-face interviews, in English or Spanish, were conducted from 2008 to 2011. Findings are based on 6398 participants who reported smoking at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. Associations with smoking cessation outcomes were assessed in bivariate and multivariable analyses. Findings indicate that approximately equal proportions of men and women were former smokers. There was little difference by gender in socioeconomic characteristics associated with smoking cessation. Both men and women who lived in households with smokers were less likely to be abstinent. Multivariable analysis indicated that the likelihood of quitting varied by national background primarily among men, however, Puerto Rican and Cuban smokers of both genders were the least likely to successfully quit smoking. Among women, but not men, younger and more socially acculturated individuals had lower odds of sustaining cessation. Over 90% of female and male former smokers reported quitting on their own without cessation aids or therapy. The results suggest that many Hispanics/Latinos are self-motivated to quit and are able to do so without clinical assistance. Heterogeneity in smoking behaviors among Hispanics/Latinos should be taken into account when developing and delivering smoking cessation interventions and public health campaigns.

Using the Interactive Systems Framework to Support a Quality Improvement Approach to Dissemination of Evidence-Based Strategies to Promote Early Detection of Breast Cancer: Planning a Comprehensive Dynamic Trial

Rapkin, B. D., Weiss, E. S., Lounsbury, D. W., Thompson, H. S., Goodman, R. M., Schechter, C. B., Merzel, C., Shelton, R. C., Blank, A. E., Erb-Downward, J., Williams, A., Valera, P., & Padgett, D. K.

Publication year

2012

Journal title

American journal of community psychology

Volume

50

Issue

3

Page(s)

497-517
Abstract
Abstract
Dissemination efforts must optimize interventions for new settings and populations. As such, dissemination research should incorporate principles of quality improvement. Comprehensive Dynamic Trial (CDT) designs examine how information gained during dissemination may be used to modify interventions and improve performance. Although CDT may offer distinct advantages over static designs, organizing the many necessary roles and activities is a significant challenge. In this article, we discuss use of the Interactive Systems Framework for Dissemination and Implementation to systematically implement a CDT. Specifically, we describe "Bronx ACCESS", a program designed to disseminate evidence-based strategies to promote adherence to mammography guidelines. In Bronx ACCESS, the Intervention Delivery System will elicit information needed to adapt strategies to specific settings and circumstances. The Intervention Synthesis and Translation System will use this information to test changes to strategies through "embedded experiments". The Intervention Support System will build local capacities found to be necessary for intervention institutionalization. Simulation modeling will be used to integrate findings across systems. Results will inform on-going policy debate about interventions needed to promote population-level screening. More generally, this project is intended to advance understanding of research paradigms necessary to study dissemination.

Identifying women at-risk for smoking resumption after pregnancy

Translating public health knowledge into practice: Development of a lay health advisor perinatal tobacco cessation program

English, K. C., Merzel, C., & Moon-Howard, J.

Publication year

2010

Journal title

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice

Volume

16

Issue

3

Page(s)

E9-E19
Abstract
Abstract
The value of lay health advisor (LHA) interventions as an effective approach toward ameliorating racial, ethnic and/socioeconomic health disparities has been noted by researchers and policy makers. Translating scientific knowledge to bring state-of-the-art health promotion/disease prevention innovation to underserved populations is critical for addressing these health disparities. This article examines the experiences of a community-academic partnership in designing, developing, and implementing an evidence-based, LHA-driven perinatal tobacco cessation program for low-income, predominately African American and Hispanic women. A multimethod process evaluation was conducted to analyze three essential domains of program implementation: (1) fit of the tobacco cessation program into the broader project context, (2) feasibility of program implementation, and (3) fidelity to program implementation protocols. Findings indicate that project partners have largely succeeded in integrating an evidence-based tobacco cessation program into a community-based maternal and infant health project. The successful implementation of this intervention appears to be attributable to the following two predominant factors: (1) the utilization of a scientifically validated tobacco cessation intervention model and (2) the emphasis on continuous LHA training and capacity development.

Adherence to antiretroviral therapy among older children and adolescents with HIV: A qualitative study of psychosocial contexts

Merzel, C., VanDevanter, N., & Irvine, M.

Publication year

2008

Journal title

AIDS patient care and STDs

Volume

22

Issue

12

Page(s)

977-987
Abstract
Abstract
Survival among perinatally infected children and youth with HIV has been greatly extended since the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapies. Yet, adherence to HIV medication regimens is suboptimal and decreases as children reach adolescence. This paper reports on a qualitative study examining psychosocial factors associated with adherence among perinatally infected youth ages 10-16 years. The study was based on in-depth interviews with a sample of 30 caregivers participating in a comprehensive health care program in New York City serving families with HIV. A subsample comprising 14 caregivers of children ages 10 and above is the focus of this paper. The analysis identified a number of themes associated with the psychosocial context of managing adherence among older children. Maintaining adherence was an ongoing challenge and strategies evolved as children matured. Regimen fatigue and resistance to taking the medications were major challenges to maintaining adherence among the oldest children. In other cases, caregivers developed a kind of partnership with their child for administering the medications. Disclosure to the child of his or her HIV status was used as a strategy to promote adherence but seemed to be effective only under certain circumstances. Social support appeared to have an indirect influence on adherence, primarily by providing caregivers with temporary help when needed. Health care professionals were an important source of disclosure and adherence support for parents. The study illustrates the interplay of maturational issues with other contextual psychosocial factors as influences on adherence among older children and adolescents.

Check out that body: A community awareness campaign in New York City

Bleakley, A., Merzel, C., Messeri, P., Gift, T., Kevin Malotte, C., Middlestadt, S., & VanDevanter, N.

Publication year

2008

Journal title

Journal of Primary Prevention

Volume

29

Issue

4

Page(s)

331-339
Abstract
Abstract
The authors evaluate the effectiveness of the small media campaign in raising community awareness about the importance of going for a health check up. Data were collected over time from 535 respondents ages 15-30 years using cross-sectional surveys in two low-income, predominantly African-American communities in New York city. Regression analyses indicated campaign material recognition at 15 months was significantly higher in the intervention community relative to the comparison community. There were no significant changes in social norms, attitudes, or beliefs. Media campaigns aimed at adolescents and young adults on a community-wide level are an effective means of gaining material recognition. Editors' Strategic Implications: This research illustrates the effect of a public health media campaign on awareness, but it also serves as a reminder to public health officials that awareness is not necessarily sufficient to promote attitudinal or behavioral health changes.

Making the connections: Community capacity for tobacco control in an Urban African American Community

Merzel, C., Moon-Howard, J., Dickerson, D., Ramjohn, D., & VanDevanter, N.

Publication year

2008

Journal title

American journal of community psychology

Volume

41

Issue

1

Page(s)

74-88
Abstract
Abstract
Developing community capacity to improve health is a cornerstone of community-based public health. The concept of community capacity reflects numerous facets and dimensions of community life and can have different meanings in different contexts. This paper explores how members of one community identify and interpret key aspects of their community's capacity to limit the availability and use of tobacco products. Particular attention is given to examining the interrelationship between various dimensions of community capacity in order to better understand the processes by which communities are able to mobilize for social change. The study is based on qualitative analysis of 19 in-depth interviews with key informants representing a variety of community sectors in Harlem, New York City. Findings indicate that the community is viewed as rich in human and social resources. A strong sense of community identity and connectedness underlies this reserve and serves as a catalyst for action.

Developing and Sustaining Community—Academic Partnerships: Lessons From Downstate New York Healthy Start

Merzel, C., Burrus, G., Davis, J., Moses, N., Rumley, S., & Walters, D.

Publication year

2007

Journal title

Health promotion practice

Volume

8

Issue

4

Page(s)

375-383
Abstract
Abstract
Partnering with communities is a critical aspect of contemporary health promotion. Linkages between universities and communities are particularly significant, given the prominence of academic institutions in channeling grants. This article describes the collaboration between a school of public health and several community-based organizations on a maternal and infant health grant project. The partnership serves as a model for ways in which a university and community organizations can interrelate and interact. Central lessons include the significance of sharing values and goals, the benefit of drawing on the different strengths of each partner, the gap created by the university's institutional focus on research rather than service and advocacy, and the strains created by power inequities and distribution of funds. A key element of the partnership's success is the emphasis on capacity building and colearning. The project demonstrates the potential of employing community—academic partnerships as a valuable mechanism for implementing community-based health promotion programs.

A community-based intervention designed to increase preventive health care seeking among adolescents: The gonorrhea community action project

VanDevanter, N. L., Messeri, P., Middlestadt, S. E., Bleakley, A., Merzel, C. R., Hogben, M., Ledsky, R., Malotte, C. K., Cohall, R. M., Gift, T. L., & St. Lawrence, J. S.

Publication year

2005

Journal title

American journal of public health

Volume

95

Issue

2

Page(s)

331-337
Abstract
Abstract
Objectives. We evaluated the effectiveness of an intervention designed to increase preventive health care seeking among adolescents. Methods. Adolescents and young adults aged 12 to 21 years, recruited from community-based organizations in 2 different communities, were randomized into either a 3-session intervention or a control condition. We estimated outcomes from 3-month follow-up data using logistic and ordinary least squares regression. Results. Female intervention participants were significantly more likely than female control participants to have scheduled a health care appointment (odds ratio [OR]=3.04), undergone a checkup (OR=2.87), and discussed with friends or family members the importance of undergoing a checkup (OR=4.5). There were no differences between male intervention and male control participants in terms of outcomes. Conclusions. This theory-driven, community-based group intervention significantly increased preventive health care seeking among female adolescents. Further research is needed, however, to identify interventions that will produce successful outcomes among male adolescents.

A cost-effectiveness analysis of interventions to increase repeat testing in patients treated for gonorrhea or chlamydia at public sexually transmitted disease clinics

Gift, T. L., Malotte, C. K., Ledsky, R., Hogben, M., Middlestadt, S., Vandevanter, N. L., St. Lawrence, J. S., Laro, M., Paxton, K., Smith, L. V., Settlage, R. H., Davis, R., Richwald, G. A., Penniman, T., Gaines, J., Olthoff, G., Zenilman, J., Vanblerk, G., Ukairo, C., Fulmer, K., Mattson, S., Johnson, V., Merzel, C., Messeri, P., Bleakley, A., Weisfuse, I., Cohall, A., Blank, S., Cohall, R. M., Levine, D., Peake, M., & Pequegnat, W.

Publication year

2005

Journal title

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Volume

32

Issue

9

Page(s)

542-549
Abstract
Abstract
Background: Persons who have been infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea (CT/GC) are at elevated risk for reinfection. The cost-effectiveness of interventions designed to encourage public sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic patients to return for rescreening has not been well-evaluated. Goal: The goal of this study was to conduct a program- and societal-perspective cost-effectiveness analysis of five interventions designed to encourage public STD clinic patients infected with CT/GC to return for rescreening 3 months after initial treatment. Study: Researchers at two STD clinics collected cost data for the five interventions. These were combined with study data on return rates and CT/GC positivity rates among returning patients to compare the cost-effectiveness of the interventions. Results: The cost per patient counseled with a brief recommendation to return, followed by a telephone reminder after 3 months, was higher than two interventions: a brief recommendation to return with no reminder and a $20 incentive, received on return. However, the brief recommendation with a telephone reminder yielded the highest return rate (33%) and was the least costly in terms of cost per infection treated ($622 program, $813 societal). In-depth motivational counseling that helped clients identify risk factors and provided reasons for returning was more costly than a phone reminder alone and was not more effective. Conclusions: Phone reminders are more cost-effective than motivational counseling and improve return rates over a brief recommendation given at the time of initial treatment.

Psychological mediating factors in an intervention to promote adolescent health care-seeking

Hogben, M., Ledsky, R., Middlestadt, S., Vandevanter, N., Messeri, P., Merzel, C., Bleakley, A., Malotte, C. K., Sionean, C. K., & St. Lawrence, J. S.

Publication year

2005

Journal title

Psychology, Health and Medicine

Volume

10

Issue

1

Page(s)

64-78
Abstract
Abstract
Some of the highest rates of curable sexually transmitted diseases in the USA are found among adolescents. Routine, comprehensive health care that includes a sexual history may contribute to alleviating this problem. We designed and ran a three-session small-group workshop for adolescents, using local community organizations as intervention sites, with peers (typically 2-3 years older) helping facilitate the interactive sessions. Outcomes are summarized elsewhere: in this paper, we present an examination of theoretically based psychological mediating factors that we sought to influence during the intervention, Adolescents' health care-seeking beliefs, general attitudes to seeking care, and intentions to do so all changed such that they held more positive beliefs, evaluated health care more favorably, and developed stronger intentions to seek care. Furthermore, relationships among these constructs were strengthened according to theoretical precepts. Adolescents' self-efficacy and their perceptions of social norms pertaining to health care-seeking, however, were unaffected by the intervention. We explored gender differences in mediating factors, finding no interaction, although females did score higher on post-intervention attitude and intention measures.

Attitudinal and contextual factors associated with discussion of sexual issues during adolescent health visits

Merzel, C. R., Vandevanter, N. L., Middlestadt, S., Bleakley, A., Ledsky, R., & Messeri, P. A.

Publication year

2004

Journal title

Journal of Adolescent Health

Volume

35

Issue

2

Page(s)

108-115
Abstract
Abstract
Purpose To examine attitudinal and contextual factors associated with the occurrence of sexual health assessments during adolescent primary care visits. Methods A total of 313 primarily African-American youth aged 11-21 years from 16 community-based organizations in suburban Maryland and in New York City completed questionnaires focusing on sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and health care. The analysis examined the relationship of sexual activity, attitudes, and presence of the parent at the health care visit with discussion of three sexual health topics and testing for STD at the most recent health care visit. Data were analyzed using Chi-square tests and logistic regression. Results Overall, 74% of respondents reported that they had talked about at least one sexual health topic at their last health care visit but only 32% had discussed all three topics of sexual behavior, birth control, and STD. Females were more likely than males to discuss birth control although there were no gender differences in the overall likelihood of talking about a sexual health topic. Few adolescents initiated discussion of sexual issues. Positive attitudes toward discussing sexual issues with a provider and absence of a parent at the visit were independently associated with higher odds of discussing at least one sexuality topic and STD testing. Conclusions Although relatively large numbers of adolescents in the sample received sexual health assessments, the proportion was below recommended guidelines. The opportunity to speak privately with a clinician and having positive attitudes about discussing sex with a doctor appear to be important influences on the receipt of sexual health assessments. Improving the quality of adolescent preventive care will require creating a health care environment that facilitates discussion of sexual health issues.

Comparison of methods to increase repeat testing in persons treated for gonorrhea and/or chlamydia at public sexually transmitted disease clinics

Malotte, C. K., Ledsky, R., Hogben, M., Larro, M., Middlestadt, S., St. Lawrence, J. S., Olthoff, G., Settlage, R. H., Van Devanter, N. L., Paxton, K., Smith, L. V., Davis, R., Richwald, G. A., Penniman, T. V., Gaines, J., Merzel, C., Messeri, P., Bleakley, A., Weifuse, I., Cohall, A., Blank, S., Cohall, R. M., Levine, D., Peake, M., Zenilman, J., VanBlerk, G., Ukairo, C., Gift, T. L., & Pequegnat, W.

Publication year

2004

Journal title

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Volume

31

Issue

11

Page(s)

637-642
Abstract
Abstract
Background: Retesting 3 to 4 months after treatment for those infected with chlamydia and/or gonorrhea has been recommended. Goal: We compared various methods of encouraging return for retesting 3 months after treatment for chlamydia or gonorrhea. Study: In study 1, participants were randomly assigned to: 1) brief recommendation to return, 2) intervention 1 plus $20 incentive paid at return visit, or 3) intervention 1 plus motivational counseling at the first visit and a phone reminder at 3 months. In study 2, participants at 1 clinic were randomly assigned to 4) intervention 1,5) intervention 1 plus phone reminder, or 6) intervention 1 plus motivational counseling but no telephone reminder. Results: Using multiple logistic regression, the odds ratios for interventions 2 and 3, respectively, compared with intervention 1 were 1.2 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.6-2.5) and 2.6 (95% CI, 1.3-5.0). The odds ratios for interventions 5 and 6 compared with intervention 4 were 18.1 (95% CI, 1.7-193.5) and 4.6 (95% CI, 0.4-58.0). Conclusions: A monetary incentive did not increase return rates compared with a brief recommendation. A reminder phone call seemed to be the most effective method to increase return.

Computer Access and Internet Use among Urban Youths

Bleakley, A., Merzel, C. R., VanDevanter, N. L., & Messeri, P.

Publication year

2004

Journal title

American journal of public health

Volume

94

Issue

5

Page(s)

744-746
Abstract
Abstract
This report presents data on computer access, Internet use, and factors associated with health information seeking on the Internet among a sample of youths aged 15 to 30 years in New York City. Findings from street intercept surveys indicate substantial computer access at home (62%) and frequent (everyday or a few times a week) Internet use (66%). Fifty-five percent of the sample reported seeking health information on the Internet, which was associated with positive beliefs about getting a health checkup and frequent Internet use.

On reconsidering community-based health promotion [3] (multiple letters)

Kuller, L. H., & Merzel, C. R. In American journal of public health.

Publication year

2003

Volume

93

Issue

8

Page(s)

1201-1202

Reconsidering community-based health promotion: Promise, performance, and potential

Merzel, C., & D’Afflitti, J.

Publication year

2003

Journal title

American journal of public health

Volume

93

Issue

4

Page(s)

557-574
Abstract
Abstract
Contemporary public health emphasizes a community-based approach to health promotion and disease prevention. The evidence from the past 20 years indicates, however, that many community-based programs have had only modest impact, with the notable exception of a number of HIV prevention programs. To better understand the reasons for these outcomes, we conducted a systematic literature review of 32 community-based prevention programs. Reasons for poor performance include methodological challenges to study design and evaluation, concurrent secular trends, smaller-than-expected effect sizes, limitations of the interventions, and limitations of theories used. The effectiveness of HIV programs appears to be related in part to extensive formative research and an emphasis on changing social norms.

Contact

cheryl.merzel@nyu.edu 708 Broadway 6FL New York, NY, 10003