Monica Webb Hooper, Ph.D.

Monica Webb Hooper

Associate Professor, Health Division
Ph.D. earned from the University of South Florida, 2005

Research Interests

Broad research interests: Clinical health psychology; Biobehavioral oncology; Minority health; Health disparities; Cancer prevention and control; Cancer risk behaviors; Health behavior change

Substantive research interests: Tobacco use; smoking cessation and interventions; individually tailored smoking cessation interventions; culturally specific cessation interventions; factors influencing intervention response; obesity/weight management

Current Research

My research includes theoretical, behavioral, experimental, and applied investigations of health behavior change, specifically cancer risk behaviors (i.e., increase the risk of cancer or worsen the health status of people diagnosed with cancer). My research includes multiple populations, such as adults, college students, African Americans, Hispanics, HIV+ persons, and cancer survivors. To date, this work has emphasized the psychological aspects of nicotine dependence and treatment, including mechanisms that underlie tailored smoking cessation interventions, the influence of expectancies on self-help interventions, and the development of culturally specific interventions. I am also interested in examining a range of interventions for tobacco use, from clinical psychology interventions (individual and group-based therapies) to public health approaches (tailored mass communications), and studying the intersection of these approaches to achieve maximal efficacy.

I am also very interested in minority health and cancer health disparities. For example, African Americans suffer disproportionately from smoking-related morbidity and mortality. In addition, the leading causes of death among U.S. Hispanics are smoking-related. A significant portion of my research focuses on understanding how to best approach interventions targeting underserved and racial/ethnic minority groups at high risk for cancer. African American smokers tend to initiate tobacco use later in life and smoke fewer cigarettes per day, yet appear to have greater difficulty quitting. However, African Americans and Hispanics living in the U.S. are underrepresented in smoking cessation clinical trials; thus, empirically-supported interventions targeting these populations are understudied. I am interested in the effects of culturally specific interventions in these groups. We completed a study funded by the National Cancer Institute to examine the feasibility and efficacy of a traditional cognitive behavioral smoking cessation therapy (CBT; plus nicotine patch therapy) among African American smokers. Results indicated that an established CBT can be generalized to this population. We have recently been awarded a grant from the National Cancer Institute to test culturally specific, group-based behavioral therapies in this population, and examine the influence of acculturation and ethnic identity. In addition, my graduate students and I completed the first systematic review and meta-analysis of smoking cessation interventions among Hispanics living in the U.S. Thus, the overarching goal of this research is to make a significant public health impact on the cancer disparities observed within these populations.

Tobacco Obesity and Oncology Laboratory (TOOL)

The Tobacco, Obesity, and Oncology Laboratory is a part of the Department of Psychology, and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (dually aligned with the Biobehavioral Oncology and Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention programs).  TOOL is located in the Behavioral Medicine Research Center (BMRC) on the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine campus.

We have launched a research-based smoking cessation clinic that is open to the community. The clinic, called NewU, provides evidence-based cognitive behavioral interventions in group and individual formats. NewU will allow us to (1) examine the feasibility of conducting an evidence-based, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) among adult smokers in Miami-Dade County; (2) examine the rates of smoking abstinence following the intervention and through 1-year post intervention; (3) examine individual difference variables that influence outcomes; and (4) provide a professional services to the UM and local communities.
Pathways to Freedom DVD Development Study (National Cancer Institute)
This grant will develop and pilot test an evidence-based smoking cessation digital video disc (DVD) targeting Black smokers. The goal of the grant is to use technology to enhance tobacco cessation and elimination of disparities in the Black community. Although health information seeking on the internet is increasing, evidence indicates that Blacks prefer printed materials and television. The relative affordability of television increases the utility of this medium for health information, which can also be streamed on the internet. This self-guided protocol will be based on Pathways to Freedom (PTF), a well-established and nationally distributed written smoking cessation guide. We are working with a locally-based production company to produce a high-quality, stand-alone, tobacco cessation intervention based on recent empirical findings. The intervention will be evaluated among Black smokers and among key stakeholders (e.g., community leaders and health directors in national Black organizations) using quantitative and qualitative methods, respectively. This study will allow our state-of-the art PTF-DVD to be made available for implementation, further evaluation, and widespread application at national, state and local agencies.
Tobacco Health Disparities Study (Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Pap Corps)
I am also interested in research aimed at understanding and reducing/eliminating tobacco-associated health disparities. The prevalence of disparities for a number of illnesses related to smoking is well documented. Less research, however, focuses on understanding why these disparities exist, particularly beyond socio-demographic (e.g., socioeconomic) reasons. One area of interest is stress. Evidence suggests that African Americans face unique daily stressors (e.g., discrimination, social disadvantage, neighborhood and safety concerns, etc.). Evidence also indicates that smoking is robustly associated with psychosocial stress. However, no studies have examined the impact of stress on African American smokers, or examined race/ethnicity differences in stress among smokers in treatment. This grant will be the first to examine race/ethnic differences in the physiological stress response among smokers in treatment. This study will provide insight into mechanisms explaining disparities in cessation among African Americans, and set the stage for a larger scale investigation.
Smoke Break Study (National Cancer Institute)
My previous research suggests that some African American smokers respond well to cultural tailoring, and others do not. I have also found that group-based interventions combined with nicotine replacement therapy are more effective in this population than other approaches (e.g., self-help materials). This study will test the effects of a culturally specific cognitive-behavioral therapy for smoking cessation, conducted in a group format. The study will also examine the influence of acculturation (second culture learning) and ethnic identity (African American affiliation and attitudes) as cultural variables that may help explain who is more likely to quit using culturally specific interventions. Answering these fundamental questions is important, as they have (1) been recognized as areas of research need in the Tobacco Clinical Practice Guidelines (Fiore et al., 2008) and (2) the potential to improve best practices for tobacco intervention among African Americans.
Serotonin, Personality, and Smoking Cessation Study (James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program)
This is a very innovative study that may serve as a model in other areas of health behavior change. The study will examine serotonergic function and impulsivity among treatment-seeking smokers. Research indicates that smokers often have problems regulating their emotions, which lowers their chances of quitting. Low serotonergic function (SF) relates to less control over emotion. We will examine relationships between the serotonin transporter gene, early adversity, and smoking cessation. This study will be the first to link genetics and cognitive patterns to smoking cessation. Findings will be relevant to tailoring interventions based on genotype, and reducing smoking and related diseases.

Selected Publications

Webb Hooper, M., Baker, E. A.*, de Ybarra, D. R.*, McNutt, M.*, & Ahluwalia, J. (e-pub ahead of print). Acculturation predicts 7-day smoking cessation among treatment-seeking African Americans in a group intervention. Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Davila, E. P., Zhao, W., Byrne, M. M., Webb Hooper, M., Messiah, A., Caban-Martinez, A. J., Dietz, N., Huang, Y., & Lee, D. J. (2011). Health-Related Quality of Life and Nicotine Dependence, Florida 2007. American Journal of Health Behavior, 35, 280-289.

Marcus, E. N., Sanders, L., Pereyra, M., Del Toro, Y., Pat Romily, A., Yepes, M., Webb Hooper, M., & Jones, B. (2011). Mammography result notification letters: Are they easy to read and understand? Journal of Women's Health, 20, 545-551.

Webb Hooper, M., Zhao, W., Byrne, M. M., Davila, E., Caban-Martinez, A., Dietz, N., Parker, D. F., Huang, Y., Messiah, A., & Lee, D. J. (2011). Menthol Cigarette Smoking and Health, Florida 2007 BRFSS. American Journal of Health Behavior 35, 3-14.

Foulds, J., Webb Hooper, M., Pletcher, M. J., & Okuyemi, K. (2010). Do Smokers of Menthol Cigarettes Find it Harder to Quit Smoking? Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 12 suppl 2, S102-S116. Doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntq166.

Webb, M. S., Rodriguez-Esquivel, D.,*& Baker, E.* (2010). Smoking cessation interventions among Hispanics in the United States: A systematic review and mini meta-analysis. American Journal of Health Promotion, 25(2), 109-118.

Byrne, M. M., Davila, E. P., Zhao, W., Parker, D., Webb Hooper, M, Caban-Martinez, A., Dietz, N., Huang, Y., Messiah, A., & Lee, D. J. (2010). Cancer screening behaviors among smokers and non-smokers. Cancer Epidemiology, 34, 611-617. Doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2010.06.017

Caban-Martinez, A. J., Davila, E. P., Zhao, W., Arheart, K. L., Webb Hooper, M., Byrne, M. M., Messiah, A., Dietz, N., Huang, Y., Fleming, L., & Lee, D. J. (2010). Disparities in Hypertension Control Advice According to Smoking Status. Preventive Medicine, 51, 302-306. Doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.06.012

Webb, M. S., Rodriguez-Esquivel, D.,* & Baker, E.* (2010). Effects of culturally specific cessation messages on theoretical antecedents of behavior among low-income African American smokers. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 24, 333-341.

Webb, M. S., Rodriguez-Esquivel, D.,* Baker, E.,* Reis, I. M. & Carey, M. P. (2010). Cognitive behavioral therapy to promote smoking cessation among African American smokers: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 24-33.

Webb, M. S., & Carey, M. P. (2009). Psychosocial factors associated with weight control expectancies in treatment-seeking African American smokers. Journal of the National Medical Association, 101, 793-799.

Davila, E. P., Wei, Z., Byrne, M. M., Webb, M. S., Huang, Y., Arheart, K., Dietz, N., Caban- Martinez, A. J., Parker, D.F., & Lee, D. J. (2009). Correlates of smoking quit attempts: Florida Tobacco Callback Survey, 2007. Tobacco Induced Diseases, 5, 10.

Webb, M. S., & Carey, M. P. (2009). The early health consequences of smoking: Relationship to psychosocial factors among treatment-seeking African American smokers. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 11, 564-571.

Webb, M. S., Vanable, P. A., Carey, M. P., & Blair, D. (2009). Medication adherence in HIV- infected smokers: The mediating role of depressive symptoms. AIDS Education and Prevention, 21, 94-105.

Webb, M. S., Seigers, D.,* & Wood, E. A. (2009). Recruiting African American smokers into intervention research: Relationships between recruitment strategies and participant characteristics. Research in Nursing and Health, 32, 86-95.

Tobacco, Obesity, and Oncology Laboratory (TOOL)-

American Psychological Association -

Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco -

Society of Behavioral Medicine -

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Smoking-Related Health Disparities -

Health Power for Minorities -


PSY 656 Introduction to Evidence-Based Psychological Treatments