Mary Segal, PhD

Mary Segal PhDMary Segal is a researcher in the field of health promotion for people with disabilities and other health disparities. She is Executive Director of the Research Center for Health Care Decision-making, Inc.; former Director of Health Equity Research at the Center for Bioethics, Urban Health and Policy, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. Dr. Segal’s methods are rooted in engaging community members as colleagues in Community Based Participatory Research, and she has worked with state agencies, advocacy groups and grassroots community members to produce useful materials on the research process and principles as well as obesity prevention and interventions. Her recent projects have focused on children with intellectual disabilities, and one guidebook, developed for children and others with mild disabilities, tailors instruction to the individual’s particular needs and employs a variety of formats, including a web-enabled presentation, to provide guidelines for healthy eating and physical activity. Dr. Segal has served as Principal Investigator on five grants from the National Institutes of Health on the topics of community based participatory research and/or obesity.

Dr. Segal’s current research focuses on implementing an NIH grant for children with intellectual disabilities to 1) determine the cultural, psychosocial and socioeconomic circumstances that impact parents’ ability and enthusiasm for facilitating their children’s participation in physical activity; 2) identify for youths with disabilities their self-reported preferences for various kinds of physical activity; and then 3) evaluate several pilot interventions based on these results.

As a member of the HWRN, Dr. Segal recently authored a team effort to analyze rates of obesity among children age 10-17 in the first nationally representative dataset that included measures of child weight and intellectual disability status. The publication’s main finding was that prevalence of obesity in youth with intellectual disabilities was almost double that of the general population after controlling for poverty, race/ethnicity and sex.

Research Interests

  • Health promotion and prevention of secondary complications for people with disabilities and other health disparities
  • Nutrition, food equity and obesity prevention for children with health disparities
  • Community engagement and partnership in academic research
  • Instrument development and validation to assess community functioning in people with disabilities

Relevant Publications

Segal M, Eliasziw M, Phillips S, Bandini L, Curtin C, Kral T, Sherwood N, Sikich L, Stanish H, Must A. Intellectual disability is associated with increased risk for obesity in a nationally representative sample of US children. Disability and Health; in press January 2016.

Gasswint C, Segal M. Children’s responses to a video-enabled presentation of options for physical activity in a community setting. Report to the PITCH Advisory Board on an NIH grant-funded project, Camp Hill PA, March 2015.

Segal M, Cooper J, Segal M. On your mark: A CBPR partnership on obesity in children with disabilities. Report presented at the National Institutes of Health agency staff conference: Lessons learned: Engaging diverse communities in obesity research, April 2013.

Bryen D, Heake G, Semenuk A, Segal M. Improving web access for individuals with disabilities who rely on augmentative and alternative communication. Augmentative and Alternative Communication 2010; 26: 21-9.

Segal M, Polansky M, Sankar P. Adults’ values and attitudes about genetic testing for obesity risk in children. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity 2007; 2: 11-21.

For a complete list of network members go to the HWRN network member page.