History of the Center
CHIP began at the University of Connecticut in the late 1980s as the AIDS Risk Reduction Project (ARRP) in response to the rise of HIV as a major threat to life and health. Founded jointly by Professors Jeffrey D. Fisher, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut, and William A. Fisher, Ph.D., of the University of Western Ontario, the work of ARRP, and later CHIP, initially centered on theory and research into the psychosocial factors that influence preventive behaviors in individuals and groups, particularly with respect to HIV prevention. Over time, CHIP has become a multidisciplinary center for the study of health promotion and health behavior change across a number of domains.
Fisher and Fisher’s interest in social psychological factors associated with sex-related preventive behaviors began with a study the two conducted in the 1970s concerning the psychology of condom purchasing in drug store settings that was published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (1977). After several years of pursuing separate research foci, in the 1980s, with the identification of HIV as a growing threat to public health, both turned their attention to HIV preventive behavior.
Initial efforts focused on development and validation of the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills (IMB) Model of HIV Preventive Behavior, which has been generalized over the years to form the IMB Model of Health Behavior Change. The IMB model was conceived by the Fishers during a breakfast meeting at the Vermont Conference on the Primary Prevention of Psychopathology in 1988 as an integrated conceptualization for understanding and promoting AIDS preventive behavior. Early pilot grants to study components of the IMB model with populations of college students came from the University of Connecticut Research Foundation, the University of Connecticut Department of Residential Life, the Society for the Psychological Study of Public Issues, the University of Connecticut Division of Student Affairs, the University of Western Ontario Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The IMB model was published in a major article in Psychological Bulletin (Fisher, J. D. & Fisher, W.A., 1992), and it has since been adopted internationally as a theoretical model for HIV intervention and reproductive health promotion.
Beginning in 1989, funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for the project “A General Technology for AIDS Risk Behavior Change” (1R01 MH46224 9/30/89-8/31/91) made it possible for the University of Connecticut and the University of Western Ontario to formalize their joint efforts as ARRP. During this period ARRP researchers worked to translate the IMB model into several high-quality AIDS risk reduction interventions and to produce accompanying materials and manuals that could be adopted by institutions and community groups wishing to implement prevention programs. The interventions were rigorously tested and found to show significant desired effects in populations of young adults on measures of knowledge gain (HIV prevention information), attitudes toward preventive behavior (HIV prevention motivation), HIV preventive behavioral skills, and HIV preventive behavior (Fisher, W. A. & Fisher, J. D., 1993; Fisher, J. D., Fisher, W. A., & Malloy, T. E., 1994; J. D. Fisher et al., 1994). The interventions and accompanying manuals were widely adopted by community groups initiating HIV prevention programs. In 1995, ARRP secured funding from the NIMH for the project “Changing AIDS Risk Behavior in High School Students” (1R01 MH54378 9/30/1995-8/31/1999). Outcomes from this study included measures for use with this population and videos and intervention materials and manuals designed specifically for high school-aged students to be delivered through school health programs. As in the earlier study, this intervention was developed to address the informational, motivational, and behavioral skills deficits in individuals that had to be remediated in order to effect behavior change. As before, the intervention showed significant change in desired directions among members of experimental groups in controlled tests.
In 1997, ARRP changed its name and structure to become the Center for HIV Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) at the University of Connecticut. During this period CHIP began work on its first intervention for HIV positive individuals, and in 1999 it secured an NIMH grant for the work entitled “Physician-Delivered Intervention for HIV+ Individuals” (1R01 MH59473 6/1/1999-6/1/2003). This study melded IMB theory with concepts from motivational interviewing in an intervention by physicians to HIV+ individuals during routine office visits to reduce the spread of HIV by these patients to others. In 2000, CHIP began its first international study entitled “HIV Prevention Intervention with Indian Truck Drivers” (NIMH grant 5R01 MH59473-02 9/1/2000-8/31/2001) in collaboration with the Benziger Foundation in Chennai, India. Since publication of the 1992 article on the IMB model, investigators from both the U.S. and international research communities have applied the IMB model of behavior change to interventions for a variety of HIV risk populations, and in a broad array of health domains outside of HIV (Fisher, J. D., Fisher, W. A., & Shuper, P. A., 2009).
In the fall of 2001, CHIP received funds from the Office of the Chancellor at the University of Connecticut to begin to serve as a multidisciplinary center for the study of health behavior change interventions across the University of Connecticut system. In the summer of 2002, CHIP changed its name to the Center for HIV/Health Intervention and Prevention to accommodate broader applications for its research beyond HIV. In the summer of 2006, CHIP changed its name again to the Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention to most accurately reflect the growing diversity of health behavior change research occurring within the center. Strong institutional and grant support have made it possible for CHIP to serve as a catalyst for collaboration on the development of new, often large-scale health behavioral research. Over 180 faculty affiliates with interests in health risk dynamics and health behavior change now participate in CHIP sponsored events and research.
CHIP has been instrumental in attracting and retaining prominent new faculty with strong research portfolios in health behavior and health behavior change to the University. CHIP has also been instrumental in recruiting and funding exceptional graduate students to attend the University. In the past few years, CHIP researchers have launched major new health behavior change initiatives including new work in the areas of HIV prevention, medical adherence, autism, diabetes management, cancer prevention, obesity, pharmacology, substance abuse and treatment, health information technology, health communication, dissemination and implementation science, health disparities, exercise science, international health, and complementary and alternative medicine, among others. A great deal of this work has been international in scope.