Noella Dietz, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Description of Research
Dr. Noella Dietz is the Scientific Director of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s (SCCC) Non-Therapeutic Research Support Core. Dr. Dietz has extensive experience in the field of tobacco control and program evaluation, with specializations in survey research-based cross-sectional and longitudinal study designs and qualitative methodology. She began working in the field of tobacco control in 2000 working on all phases of the Florida “truth” prevention campaign evaluation as well as the Minnesota prevention campaign, the Minnesota cessation campaign, and the more recent Tobacco Free Florida prevention and cessation campaign targeting youth, young adults, and adults. Dr. Dietz also assessed the impact of tobacco control media campaigns on non-targeted populations; that is, how exposure to youth-targeted anti-tobacco advertising influenced adults. Specifically, she has worked on studies on secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure issues, including young adults, SHS health effects in worker groups, and as a Co-Investigator examining the prevalence, validation, and health effects of SHS exposure in a population-based sample of nonsmoking adults residing in Florida.
Dr. Dietz worked as a Co-Investigator on a Team Science project that conducted a comprehensive study of tobacco-associated cancers in the state of Florida. Further, she secured funding from the American Cancer Society (ACS) to use her qualitative skills to assess issues related to smoking cessation among women. Dr. Dietz completed a multi-disciplinary research team investigation as part of a Biomedical Research Program Grant (PI: Lee) where the documented burden of tobacco use in the South Florida area led to the development of a community wide smoking cessation intervention targeting a medically at-risk population. Dr. Dietz also led a multidisciplinary research team investigation examining tobacco control efforts for the Tobacco Free Florida campaign. As a Co-Investigator, Dr. Dietz has collaborated with Dr. Webb Hooper (PI) examining culturally specific tobacco control interventions among African American smokers.
Finally, Dr. Dietz recently completed a study examining the mode effects of using different consent processes when asking for biological materials from youth to examine tobacco use. Dr. Dietz continues her tobacco control work by examining which survey modality yields the most accurate self-reported data for youth; current data suggests a high degree of misclassification among youth when self-reporting smoking status. Further, she collaborates with a range of investigators at the SCCC and devotes her research efforts to cancer prevention and control through the field of tobacco control, program evaluation, and survey research-based studies.
Comprehensive evaluation of tobacco control programs is essential to reduce tobacco use morbidity/mortality. The CDC calls for evidence-based measures to decrease smoking initiation and increase cessation. Such evidence is obtained through targeted surveillance/evaluation. Dr. Dietz has extensive experience in this area, with specializations in survey research-based cross-sectional and longitudinal study designs and qualitative methodology. She began working in the field of tobacco control in 2000 and continues this line of inquiry as a faculty member at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine investigating tobacco use behaviors.
- Dr. Dietz has been awarded a number of grants to study tobacco use behaviors among various populations. She examined the termination effects of two successful anti-tobacco programs on youth tobacco behaviors. Findings showed youth retained more pro-tobacco attitudes/beliefs, had increased susceptibility to smoke, and increased smoking prevalence rates (Journal of the American Medical Association 2004; 291(20):2422-2423; Preventing Chronic Disease 2010; 7(3):1-4).
- With the restoration of Florida’s tobacco control funds, she was selected by the Florida Dept. of Health as the Principal Investigator leading a multi-disciplinary research team evaluating the Tobacco Free Florida (TFF) prevention/cessation campaign (2008-2010) targeting youth, young adults, and adults. This was one of the first campaigns to specifically target the young adult population; as such, her work showed correlates of smoking among young adults and factors favorably affecting their cessation rates (Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2013; 130(1-3):115-121; American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2013; 57(5):690-695).
- Her current work focuses on measurement of prevalence rates for various tobacco products to understand fluctuations in population estimates as well as understand how youth and young adults assimilate pro-tobacco and e-cigarette messaging. The evidence suggests the modality by which youth self-report smoking are profoundly affected by changes in social/normative factors and contextual factors like survey administration environments (Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2015; 149:264-267). The usefulness of these findings go well beyond Florida as most states use similar survey methods measuring their statewide anti-tobacco programs. These findings raise concerns about data accuracy estimating tobacco use behaviors, with the ramifications for inaccurate prevalence data including flawed decision-making regarding the design and implementation of effective anti-tobacco programs across the US. As demonstrated by Dr. Dietz’s previous work, the long-term implications for having limited or no anti-tobacco strategies leads to increases in smoking rates. Further, dramatic increases in e-cigarettes use and the absence of strong anti-messaging regarding e-cigarettes necessitates the need for an accurate understanding of how youth perceive and use e-cigarettes and related products to prevent further uptake and nicotine addiction (NCI grant under review).
- Dr. Dietz also was a Co-Principal Investigator on a multi-disciplinary research team investigation where the documented burden of tobacco use in South Florida led to the development of a community-wide smoking cessation intervention targeting a medically at-risk population. Overall, she is acquainted with a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches to tobacco control and their programmatic and policy relevance. She has over 15 years of scientific experience as a tobacco control expert and is thoroughly trained as a scientific evaluator.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications
Collaborating in the Multidisciplinary Research Program(s):