My research involves behavioral cancer prevention, specifically in the areas of skin cancer (the most common cancer in the US) and tobacco control (the leading cause of preventable deaths in the US). I’ve used my research training to evaluate the effectiveness of school-based sun safety education, analyze how people utilize the Internet and social media for cancer information, survey children, adolescents and young adults on their skin cancer prevention behaviors, and assess cancer prevention programs among special populations.

— Dr. Julie Merten

Current Projects

Brooks Dean’s Research Professorship 2018 – 2021

UNF Public Health & Baptist Health Healthy Living Centers: Partnership to Develop and Test a Brief Skin Cancer Risk Assessment and Referral Intervention

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, 20% of the US population will develop skin cancer during their lifetime, and annual treatment costs top eight billion dollars. Although ultraviolet radiation exposure and skin cancer rates are rising, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends targeted screenings only for higher risk individuals rather than routine screenings for all adults; however there is no protocol in place to identify higher risk individuals. As with other cancers, earlier detection through screening often leads to better chances of recovery and reduced expenses. This three-year study will develop and test the feasibility of an intervention to train lay providers (health coaches) to identify and refer adults at higher risk for skin cancer for a total body skin examination (TBSE). Aim one of this study will adapt the brief skin cancer assessment tool (BRAT) to develop a Brief Intervention and Referral for Screening toolkit for use by health coaches. Aim two will assess the feasibility of the intervention among health coaches and patients. This study proposes an innovative approach to fill a gap in clinical practice of more strategically screening adults for skin cancer. Pending successful feasibility of the intervention, we will conduct multi-site randomized controlled trials, expand to other sites, and include additional allied health professionals.

Select Presentations and Publications
Largo-Wight, E., Guardino, C., Wludyka, P.S., Hall, K., Wight, J.T., & Merten, J.W. (2018). Nature contact at school: The impact of an outdoor classroom on children’s well-being. International Journal of Environmental Health Research
Largo-Wight, E., Wlyudka, P. S., Merten, J. W. & Cuvelier, E. A. (2017). Effectiveness and feasibility of a 10-minute employee stress intervention: Outdoor booster break. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 32(3)159-171. doi: 10.1080/15555240.2017.1335211

King, J. L., Pomeranz, J. L., Young, M. E., & Merten, J. W. (2017). Pharmacist recommendations for adolescent smoking cessation: Results from a Delphi study. Journal of Pharmacology and Clinical Toxicology,5(4), 1080-1085.

King, J. L., Merten, J. W., Wong, T. J., & Pomeranz, J. L., & (2017). Applying a social ecological framework to factors related to nicotine replacement therapy for adolescent smoking cessation. American Journal of Health Promotion, doi:10.1177/0890117117718422

Merten, J. W., King, J. L., & Largo-Wight, E. (2017). Research letter: Total body skin examination adherence among young adults with an increased risk for skin cancer. Dermatology Online Journal,23(6), 22-23. doi:_35401

Peacock-McLaughlin, C.*, Largo-Wight, E., Wlyukda, P. S., Johnson, T., & Merten, J. W. (2017). The built environment, transportation policy and population health: A comparison of two cities. Urban Research and Practice, 11(3), 1-7.doi10.1080/17535069.2017.1322134

Vilaro, M. J., Barnett, T. E., Watson, A. M., Merten, J. W., & Mathews, A. E. (2017).  Weekday and weekend food advertising exposure varies on children’s television programing in the U.S. but persuasive techniques and unhealthy items still dominate. Public Health, 142, 22-30.doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2016.10.011

Bechtel, A. S., Merten, J. W., & Sandler, E.(2016). Sun safety knowledge, attitudes and behaviors among children in Northeast Florida. Northeast Florida Medicine, 67(3), 61-64.

Merten, J. W., Parker, A., Williams, A. N., King, J. L., Largo-Wight, E., & Osmani, M.** (2016). Cancer risk factor knowledge among young adults. Journal of Cancer Education, doi:10.1007/s13187-016-1093-3

Merten, J. W., King, J. L., Vilaro, M. J., & Largo-Wight, E. (2016). Lifestyle factors associated with sunscreen use among young adults.American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 12(4), 331-339.doi:10.1007/s13187-016-1093-3

King, J. L., Wong, T., Merten, J. W., & Pomeranz, J. L. (2016). Assessing attitudes toward nicotine replacement therapy for adolescent smoking cessation. Florida Public Health Review,13, 24-28.

King, J. L., Pomeranz, J. L., & Merten, J. W. (2016). A systematic review and meta-evaluation of adolescent smoking cessation interventions that utilized nicotine replacement therapy. Addictive Behaviors, 52, 39-45. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.08.007

King, J. L., Pomeranz, J. L., Young, M. E., Moorhouse, M., & Merten, J. W. (2016). Evaluation of a newly developed tobacco cessation program for people with disabilities. Disability and Health, 9(1), 145-149. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2015.08.002

Merten, J. W., King, J. L., Walsh-Childers, K. B, Vilaro, M. J., & Pomeranz, J. L. (2015). Skin cancer and other health behaviors: A scoping review. Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 11(2),182-196. doi:10.1177/1559827615594350

Merten, J. W. (2015). Skin cancer prevention behaviors among Northeast Florida college students. Florida Public Health Review, 12, 23-30. Retrieved from

Merten, J. W., Pomeranz, J. L., King, J. L., Moorhouse, M., & Wynn, R. (2015). Barriers to cancer screening for people with disabilities: A scoping review. Disability and Health, 8(1), 9-16. doi:10.1016/j.dhjo.2014.06.004

Merten, J. W., Barr, E. M. Monroe-Ossi, H., King, J. L., Griner, S. & Vosoughi, M. (2014). Asset mapping and resource guide development in partnership with Title I schools. International Journal of Social Science, 3(5), 66-71. Retrieved from

Barr, E. M., Moore, M. M., Johnson, T., Merten, J. W., & Stewart, P. (2014). The relationship between screen time and sexual behaviors among middle school students. The Health Educator, 46(1), 6-13. Retrieved from

King, J. L., Pomeranz, J. L., & Merten, J. W. (2014). Nutrition interventions people with disabilities: A scoping review. Disability and Health, 7(2), 157-163.doi:10.1016/j.dhjo.2013.12.003

Merten, J. W., Higgins, S., Rowan, A., & Pragle, A. (2014). Sun safety attitudes, knowledge and behaviors among beach-going adolescents. American Journal of Health Education, 45(1), 37-41. doi:10.1080/19325037.2013.852997

Merten, J. W., Walsh-Childers, K. B., Rodman, L., Birchwood, N. E.**, & Young, M. E. (2013). Rural breast cancer patients and survivors’ perspectives using online health resources. Journal of Women’s Health, Issues and Care, 2(6), 1-6. doi:10.4172/2325-9795.1000124