University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center

Population of Focus: adults from diverse racial and ethnic groups, including African American adults

Topic Areas: physical activity, healthy eating

Introduction, Mission, and Vision

The University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center (USC PRC) is one of 26 Prevention Research Centers (PRCs) supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the 2019–2024 funding cycle. Each PRC is funded to establish and maintain their center and to conduct a core research project. PRCs may receive supplemental funding to conduct additional research projects and activities.

USC PRC’s core vision is to support communities that promote physical activity and healthy eating for all people. Its mission is to conduct research that benefits the public’s health and to translate research into practice. USC PRC promotes physical activity and healthy eating through community-engaged intervention, training, dissemination, and applied prevention research.

Core Research

Each PRC uses a community-engaged approach to conduct one primary applied public health prevention research project called a core research project. Project activities include design, development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination. PRCs use at least 50% of their CDC funding to conduct the project in partnership with communities.

National Implementation Study of the Faith, Activity, and Nutrition (FAN) Program

Group of people in a religious setting stretching their arms.

Trainees learn how to add active breaks to meetings and events as part of USC PRC's FAN program.

USC’s core research project for the 2019–2024 funding cycle expands the Faith, Activity, and Nutrition (FAN) program to churches and communities across the United States. FAN was initially developed and tested in partnership with the 7th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. The program focused on making organizational change in the church to better support physical activity and healthy eating. In the 2014–2019 funding cycle, FAN was disseminated to churches in Fairfield County, South Carolina, and across the state.

USC PRC is also working with its Community Advisory Board and translation partners to provide online training to churches across the United States to expand the FAN program. The program seeks to:

  • Develop a web-based approach to prepare churches to implement FAN and promote its availability to churches across the country.
  • Deliver web-based training and support to churches and examine factors associated with its adoption.
  • Examine implementation fidelity, factors associated with implementation, and organizational (church) change when church members are trained and supported through the web-based approach.
  • Evaluate the costs of hosting and administering web-based training and support, church costs for training and implementation, and the relationship between church costs and implementation outcomes.
  • Identify and engage key partners to administer web-based training and support to enhance reach and sustainability.

Additional Research

PRCs may receive supplemental funding to work on additional research projects each funding cycle. These Special Interest Projects (SIPs) focus on a variety of health topics or gaps in scientific evidence. PRCs can also conduct additional research as part of SIP Thematic Research Networks, which are groups of PRCs working together on related health topics.

Dementia Risk Reduction Research Network – Collaborating Center

The rise of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) have become a worldwide public health crisis. Limited ADRD prevention and treatment options are available, but they are often not accessible to some community members.

As part of the Dementia Risk Reduction Research Network, UofSC PRC will recruit African American older adults at risk for ADRD and evaluate a mindful walking program in sustaining their cognition and quality of life across 24 weeks.


COVID-19 and Women: An Assessment of Challenges and Lessons Learned to Enhance Public Health Emergency Preparedness for Women and Families

This SIP will develop evidence-based recommendations for the development of public health emergency preparedness plans, which can promote the resilience of women, communities, and health facilities as well as optimize effective preparedness and response for rural Black women and their families during infectious disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies.

Evaluating Alternative Delivery Models for Arthritis Self-Management Interventions

Several evidence-based programs designed to help people with arthritis be more physically active—including a group program called Walk with Ease—have helped participants improve their arthritis symptoms. Yet many people face barriers that prevent them from participating in in-person groups.

This SIP seeks to evaluate the effects of a phone-based version of Walk with Ease on pain, function, and related outcomes in adults with arthritis. If effective, this alternative format could expand the reach of these types of programs to populations with the greatest need.


PRC Vaccine Confidence Network (PRC VCN)

In April 2021, CDC funded a 12-month award to all 26 PRCs to form the PRC Vaccine Confidence Network (PRC VCN) in support of the agency’s Vaccinate with Confidence strategy for COVID-19. As part of this network, USC PRC examines vaccine hesitancy to find ways to promote vaccine confidence, increase vaccine uptake, and reduce disparities in African American populations. The goal is to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 in the United States.

USC PRC is working with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the South Carolina Community Health Worker Association, and the Palmetto Aids Life Support Services to promote confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and improve access. Other partners are organizing social marketing events and addressing infrastructure barriers (e.g., vaccination uptake navigation) with technical support from USC PRC.

Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN) Collaborating Center

As a member of CPCRN, the South Carolina Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (SC-CPCRN) works to reduce cancer-related health disparities among disenfranchised and medically underserved populations by advancing dissemination and implementation (D&I) research.

SC-CPCRN uses evidence-based approaches to share and implement effective cancer prevention and control messages, guidelines, and interventions. Its efforts are supported by partnerships with the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association; Federally Qualified Health Centers; the South Carolina Hospital Association; the South Carolina Cancer Alliance (which administers the state’s comprehensive cancer plan); and other academic, clinical, community, and faith-based groups.

Contact Information
Prevention Research Center Arnold School of Public Health logo

Location: Columbia, South Carolina

Principal Investigator: Sara Wilcox, PhD

Deputy Director: Deborah Kinnard, BA


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