Dr. Thorndike’s research focus is on individual and population-level behavioral interventions to prevent cardiometabolic disease. Dr. Thorndike’s research has focused on smoking cessation and more recently on interventions to promote exercise and nutrition in worksite and community settings. As an expert in behavioral interventions, Dr. Thorndike is a vital resource for the TRTC team.
Dr. Thorndike’s research on tobacco includes important findings on the treatment of tobacco by physicians. This work was influential in increasing physicians involvement in treating tobacco use and was cited in the USPHS Clinical Practice Guidelines for Tobacco Treatment. Dr. Thorndike contributed a chapter on smoking cessation for patients with cardiovascular disease to the 2010 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Additionally, Dr. Thorndike was involved in studies examining the safety and efficacy of bupropion for smoking cessation, as well as the impact that switching the transdermal nicotine patch from prescription to nonprescription status had on ease of access to tobacco treatment and on population smoking cessation rates. She collaborated with Dr. Eden Evins, from the Mass General Center for Addiction Medicine, to analyze the change in weight and cardiovascular risk among smokers with serious mental illness who quit smoking.
Dr. Thorndike’s non-tobacco research has tested novel interventions to promote healthy food choices. Much of this work has utilized behavioral economics strategies, such as choice architecture, social norms, and financial incentives. Building on the success of strategies to promote healthy eating behaviors in the worksite setting, Dr. Thorndike has conducted pilot studies in the community setting to test similar types of interventions in corner stores and supermarkets to address disparities in obesity and healthy eating in low-income and minority populations. Her ongoing work will evaluate personalized feedback and incentives to promote employee health and supermarket interventions to increase fruit and vegetable purchases in a low-income community.