Please note that this is not our primary website.
To learn more about Dr. Bennett, please visit: drgarybennett.com
To learn more about Dr. Bennett's work with Duke Digital Health, please visit: dukedigitalhealth.org
Gary G. Bennett is the Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience, Global Health, and Medicine at Duke University. He directs Duke’s Global Digital Health Science Center (Duke Digital Health), which leverages digital health technologies to improve health outcomes in medically vulnerable populations. Dr. Bennett also leads the Duke Obesity Prevention Program, co-directs the Duke Center for Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research and holds an appointment in the Duke Cancer Institute.
Dr. Bennett’s research program designs, tests, and disseminates digital health obesity treatments for primary care settings that serve medically vulnerable populations. Dr. Bennett developed the interactive obesity treatment approach (iOTA), which has been evaluated in several trials, both domestically and abroad. His recent work has demonstrated the effectiveness of coach-led, digital health weight loss and hypertension control interventions delivered via web, smartphone, and interactive voice response systems. His recent intervention trials in medically vulnerable communities have been the focus of numerous invited addresses for professional and lay audiences alike. He has authored more than 125 scientific papers in the past decade and his research program has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Bennett has served on numerous NIH committees, grant review panels, editorial boards, and guidelines councils. Dr. Bennett is committed to the dissemination of evidence-based treatments; he serves on science advisory and executive boards of several community, professional, and commercial organizations. He also co-founded two digital health startups: Crimson Health Solutions (acquired by Health Dialog in 2007) and Scale Down. Prior to joining Duke in 2009, Dr. Bennett served on the faculties of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Bennett earned a bachelor's degree at Morehouse College, followed by doctoral studies in clinical health psychology at Duke University, a clinical psychology internship at Duke University Medical Center and postdoctoral studies in social epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Evidence is lacking regarding effective and sustainable weight loss approaches for use in the primary care setting. We conducted a 12-week randomized controlled trial to evaluate the short-term efficacy of a web-based weight loss intervention among 101 primary care patients with obesity and hypertension. Patients had access to a comprehensive website that used a moderate-intensity weight loss approach designed specifically for web-based implementation. Patients also participated in four (two in-person and two telephonic) counseling sessions with a health coach. Intent-to-treat analysis showed greater weight loss at 3 months (-2.56 kg; 95% CI -3.60, -1.53) among intervention participants (-2.28 +/- 3.21 kg), relative to usual care (0.28 +/- 1.87 kg). Similar findings were observed among intervention completers (-3.05 kg; 95% CI -4.24, -1.85). High rates of participant retention (84%) and website utilization were observed, with the greatest weight loss found among those with a high frequency of website logins (quartile 4 vs. 1: -4.16 kg; 95% CI -1.47, -6.84). The intervention's approach promoted moderate weight loss at 12 weeks, though greater weight loss was observed among those with higher levels of website utilization. Efficacious web-based weight loss interventions can be successfully offered in the primary care setting.
The Internet increasingly serves as a platform for the delivery of public health interventions. The efficacy of Internet interventions has been demonstrated across a wide range of conditions. Much more work remains, however, to enhance the potential for broad population dissemination of Internet interventions. In this article, we examine the effectiveness of Internet interventions, with particular attention to their dissemination potential.We discuss several considerations (characterizing reach rates, minimizing attrition, promoting Web site utilization, use of tailored messaging and social networking) that may improve the implementation of Internet interventions and their associated outcomes. We review factors that may influence the adoption of Internet interventions in a range of potential dissemination settings. Finally, we present several recommendations for future research that highlight the potential importance of better understanding intervention reach, developing consensus regarding Web site usage metrics, and more broadly integratingWeb 2.0 functionality. Copyright © 2009 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.
Background: Despite its health benefits, physical inactivity is pervasive, particularly among those living in lower-income urban communities. In such settings, neighborhood safety may impact willingness to be regularly physically active. We examined the association of perceived neighborhood safety with pedometer-determined physical activity and physical activity selfefficacy. Methods and Findings: Participants were 1,180 predominantly racial/ethnic minority adults recruited from 12 urban low-income housing complexes in metropolitan Boston. Participants completed a 5-d pedometer data-collection protocol and self-reported their perceptions of neighborhood safety and self-efficacy (i.e., confidence in the ability to be physically active). Gender-stratified bivariate and multivariable random effects models were estimated to account for within-site clustering. Most participants reported feeling safe during the day, while just over one-third (36%) felt safe at night. We found no association between daytime safety reports and physical activity among both men and women. There was also no association between night-time safety reports and physical activity among men (p 1/4 0.23) but women who reported feeling unsafe (versus safe) at night showed significantly fewer steps per day (4,302 versus 5,178, p 1/4 0.01). Perceiving one's neighborhood as unsafe during the day was associated with significantly lower odds of having high physical activity self-efficacy among both men (OR 0.40, p 1/4 0.01) and women (OR 0.68, p 1/4 0.02). Conclusions: Residing in a neighborhood that is perceived to be unsafe at night is a barrier to regular physical activity among individuals, especially women, living in urban low-income housing. Feeling unsafe may also diminish confidence in the ability to be more physically active. Both of these factors may limit the effectiveness of physical activity promotion strategies delivered in similar settings. © 2007 Bennett et al.
Objective: The elevated prevalence of obesity among U.S. blacks has been attributed to low socioeconomic position (SEP), despite inconsistent empirical findings. It is unclear whether low SEP at various lifecourse stages differentially influences adulthood BMI and BMI change. Research Methods and Procedures: Among 1167 black adults in the Pitt County Study, we examined independent cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between SEP, measured in childhood and adulthood, and BMI and 13-year BMI change. Low vs. high childhood SEP was measured by parental occupation and childhood household deprivation; low vs. high adulthood SEP was assessed by employment status, education, and occupation. Using childhood and adulthood SEP, four lifecourse SEP categories were created: low-low, low-high, high-low, high-high. Results: We found no consistent associations between SEP and BMI or BMI change among men. Among women, we observed the expected inverse association between SEP and BMI at baseline. In multivariable-adjusted analyses, socio-economically advantaged women demonstrated larger 13-year increases in BMI: skilled vs. unskilled parental occupation (6.1 vs. 4.8 kg/m2, p = 0.04); college-educated vs. < high school (6.2 vs. 4.5 kg/m2, p = 0.04); white-collar vs. blue-collar job (5.8 vs. 4.8 kg/m2, p = 0.05); and high-high vs. low-low lifecourse SEP (6.5 vs. 4.6 kg/m2, p = 0.02). Discussion: For women in this black cohort, lower SEP predicted earlier onset of obesity; however, low SEP was less predictive of BMI increases over time. Our findings demonstrate complex patterns of association between SEP and BMI change among black women. Copyright © 2007 NAASO.