Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Monica Webb Hooper, Ph.D.

Monica Webb Hooper, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology

Description of Research

Dr. Webb Hooper’s research interests include cancer prevention and control, with a focus on health risk behaviors, and cancer health disparities. Her work focuses on tobacco smoking. Dr. Webb Hooper's research consists of theoretical, behavioral, experimental, and applied investigations on tabacco use, cessation, and relapse prevention. Her research is connected by two themes, in that each of her studies: 1) involve increasing the personal relevance of tobacco interventions, by sub-group targeting or individual-tailoring; 2) consider mechanisms that might affect intervention response, including process and/or outcome variables. She has also a new research-based smoking cessation clinic, NEW U, on the Miller School of Medicine campus, which provides individual and group cognitive behavioral therapy plus free nicotine patches to smokers in the community and within the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (SCCC).

Tailored interventions for smoking cessation. Dr. Webb Hooper is interested in understanding the psychological and information processing mechanisms that expalin why these interventions are superior. She has conducted dismantling experiments examining underlying mechanisms of tailored interventions, using a "placebo tailoring" design to test the impact of personalization and individual differences on receptivity to tailored messages. Results have provided evidence of an expectancy and personalization-based placebo effect. Her research has also shown that this placebo effect can be primed by enhancing positive expectations before delivering the smoking cessation messages. The placebo tailored intervention influenced readiness to quit smoking, cessation self-efficacy, and smoking behavior. Both of these studies are published in Health Psychology.

Dr. Webb Hooper was awarded a Mentored Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society to conduct a clinical trial of the placebo tailored intervention to demonstrate its efficacy for smoking cessation. This study will examine short-term behavioral outcomes, as well as moderators of the intervention, including participants' preferences and perceived difficulty for utilization.

Tobacco-associated health disparities. Dr. Webb Hooper’s research seeks to inform theory related to treating African Americans for nicotine dependence and make a significant public health impact on disparities. She was awarded an R21 from the NCI to develop and pilot test an evidence-based smoking cessation 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. This study will allow our state-of-the art PTF-DVD to be made available for implementation, further evaluation, and widespread application.

Dr. Webb Hooper was awarded an R01 from the NCI to 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 cultural 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.

Dr. Webb Hooper is also interested in research aimed at understanding and reducing/eliminating tobacco-associated health disparities. One area of interest is stress. Dr. Webb Hooper is conducting a SCCC Pap Corps Cancer Health Disparities Pilot Grant to study this issue. This study will provide insight into mechanisms explaining disparities in cessation among African Americans, and set the stage for a larger scale investigation. Dr. Webb Hooper also received a new investigator grant to conduct an innovative study that may serve as a model in other areas of health behavior change. Findings will be relevant to tailoring interventions based on genotype, and reducing smoking and related diseases.


  • Demonstrated a ‘placebo effect’ for tailored smoking cessation messages, moderated by cognitive processing style
  • Investigated the role of acculturation in culturally specific messages for African American smokers
  • Demonstrated the relationship between psychosocial factors and smoking-related symptoms among African American smokers
  • Demonstrated the generalizability of group cognitive behavioral therapy (in its standard format) to African American smokers

Selected Cancer-Related Publications

  • Marcus EN, Sanders LM, Pereyra M, Del Toro Y, Romilly AP, Yepes M, Hooper MW, Jones BA. Mammography result notification letters: are they easy to read and understand? J Womens Health (Larchmt) 20:545-51,2011 Read more »
  • Byrne MM, Davila EP, Zhao W, Parker D, Hooper MW, Caban-Martinez A, Dietz N, Huang Y, Messiah A, Lee DJ. Cancer screening behaviors among smokers and non-smokers. Cancer Epidemiol 34:611-7,2010 Read more »

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