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University of South Florida · College of Behavioral & Community Sciences · Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling

Stern, Marilyn, Ph.D.

Stern, Marilyn, Ph.D.

Dr. Marilyn Stern’s primary professional focus in pediatric psychosocial oncology has been in adolescents with cancer, communication, and transition to survivorship; developing interventions to reduce childhood and adolescent obesity, and the vulnerable child syndrome. Her current work focuses on identifying those factors related to optimal development among children and adolescents transitioning off active cancer treatment, with the aim of developing interventions to optimize their adaptation to survivorship.

Prior to joining the Department, Dr. Stern played an integral role in the establishment of a multi-disciplinary clinical research program at the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Pediatrics targeting obese adolescents and their families.  In a 2014 article in the European Journal of Nutrition, Dr. Stern and colleagues address changes in body anthropometry and composition in obese adolescents participating in the T.E.E.N.S. lifestyle intervention program.  The Teaching, Encouragement, Exercise, Nutrition, and Support (T.E.E.N.S.) is an ongoing community-based adolescent weight management research program comprised of three components: (1) a structured nutrition education program, (2) supervised physical activity, and (3) behavioral support.  She is currently expanding this work in a multidisciplinary pilot project currently being implemented in the Pinellas school district, targeting 9th grade high school students.

She is also working on two related projects: 1) adapting an intervention that is effective with overweight/obese children for parents of pediatric cancer survivors who are overweight/obese and 2) examining strategies to improve adolescent cancer patient communication with their health care providers as they transition off active treatment.

In a 2013 article in Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, Dr. Stern and colleagues outline a five-phase pilot study to adapt a comprehensive parent psycho-educational intervention (NOURISH-T) to address the specific issues that contribute to overweight/obesity in pediatric cancer survivors.  A number of treatment factors, parenting behaviors, adjustment reactions, and patient behaviors were found that may be related to the children’s overweight/obesity status.  Results of the pilot study indicated parental interest in a group intervention that provides promotes healthy lifestyle behaviors and addresses overweight/obesity.  Parents also indicated a desire to have the intervention when the children were younger.  This pilot formed the basis of The NOURISH-T intervention (funded by NIH).

An elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Stern is also the principal or co-principal investigator on several National Institute of Health grants, including ‘Targeting Caregivers to Enhance Health Behaviors in Pediatric Cancer Survivors’ and ‘NOURISHing Families to Promote Healthy Eating and Exercise in Overweight Children’.  She is also a co-investigator on a USF Women’s Health Collaborative Grant, ‘A Pilot Study of Postpartum Weight Loss in Obese Women Using a Sleep Intervention in a Group.’

Selected Publications

Stern, M., Ewing, L., Davila, E., Thompson, A. L., Hale, G., & Mazzeo, S. (2015). Design and rationale for NOURISH-T: A randomized control trial targeting parents of overweight children with cancer transitioning off treatment. Contemporary Clinical Trials. Advance online publication.  doi:10.1016/j.cct.2014.12.018 ABSTRACT

Ning, Y., Yang, S., Evans, R. K., Stern, M., Sun, S., Francis, G. L., & Wickham, E. P. (2014). Changes in body anthropometry and composition in obese adolescents in a lifestyle intervention program. European Journal of Nutrition, 53(4), 1093-1102.  doi:10.1007/s00394-013-0612-9.  ABSTRACT

Foster, R. H., Russell, C. C., Dillon, R., Bitsko, M. J., Godder, K., & Stern, M. (2014). Relations among optimism, perceived health vulnerability, and academic, self-regulatory, and social self-efficacy in adolescent survivors of childhood cancer. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 32(2), 207-223.  doi:10.1080/07347332.2013.874000.  ABSTRACT

Mazzeo, S. E., Kelly, N. R., Stern, M., Gow, R. W., Cotter, E. W., Thornton, L. M., . . . Bulik, C. M. (2014). Parent skills training to enhance weight loss in overweight children: evaluation of NOURISH. Eating Behaviors, 15(2), 225-229.  doi:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.01.010. ABSTRACT

Foster, R. H., Russel, C., Dillon, R., Bitsko, M., Godder, K., & Stern, M., (2014). Relations among optimism, perceived health vulnerability, and academic, self-regulatory, and social self-efficacy in adolescent and young adult survivors of childhood cancer. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology32, 207-213. doi:10.1080/07347332.2013.87400  ABSTRACT

Stern, M., Lamanna, J., Russell, C., Winig, L., Thompson, A., Trapp, S., Bitsko, M., & Mazzeo, S. (2013). Adaptation of an obesity intervention program for pediatric cancer survivors (NOURISH-T).  Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, 1(3), 264-275.

Gerke, C. K., Mazzeo, S. E., Stern, M., Palmberg, A. A., Evans, R. K., & Wickham, E. P., 3rd. (2013). The stress process and eating pathology among racially diverse adolescents seeking treatment for obesity. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 38(7), 785-793.  doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jst042.  PMC3721190. FULL-TEXT

Mazzeo, S. E., Kelly, N. R., Stern, M., Palmberg, A. A., Belgrave, F. Z., Tanofsky-Kraff, M., . . . Bulik, C. M. (2013). Liber8 design and methods: An integrative intervention for loss of control eating among African American and white adolescent girls. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 34(1), 174-185.  doi:10.1016/j.cct.2012.10.012.  PMC4025958  FULL-TEXT

Porter, J., Stern, M., Mazzeo, S., Evans, R., & Laver, J. (2013). Relations among teasing, body image, and depression in treatment seeking obese African American adolescents. Journal of Black Psychology, 39(4), 390-410.  doi:10.1177/0095798412454680  ABSTRACT

Stern, M., Lamanna, J., Russell, C., Ewing, L., Thompson, A., Trapp, S., Bitsko, M. & Mazzeo, S. (2013). Cancer and obesity in childhood cancer survivors: Developing strategies for intervention. Journal of Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, 1(3), 264-275. doi: 10.1037/cpp0000023  ABSTRACT(may require login)

Trapp, S., Woods, J., Grove, A., & Stern, M. (2013). Male coping processes as demonstrated in the context of a cancer-related social support group. Supportive Care in Cancer, 21(2), 619-627. doi: 10.1007/s00520-0121565  ABSTRACT

Foster, R.H., Stern, M., Russell, C., Shivy, V., Bitsko, Dillon, R., M., Klosky, J., & Godder, K. (2012). Examining the influence of optimism and perceived health vulnerability on parent-adolescent attachment among survivors of pediatric cancer. Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology, 1, 181-187. doi:10.1089/jayao.2011.0034  ABSTRACT

Mazzeo, S., Kelly, N, Stern, M., Gow, R., Serdar, K Evans., R., Jones, R., & Bulik, C. (2012). Nourishing Our Understanding of Role Modeling to Improve Support and Health (NOURISH): Design and methods, Contemporary Clinical Trials, 33, 515-522.  FULL-TEXT