Christopher Cushing

Christopher Cushing
  • Assistant Professor/Assistant Scientist
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies

Contact Info

Dole Human Development Center, Room 2011


I earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology from the University of Kansas, under the mentorship of Dr. Ric Steele, with an APA-Accredited Internship specializing in Behavioral Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

In 2012 I joined the faculty of the Clinical Psychology Program, in the Department of Psychology at Oklahoma State University at the rank of Assistant Professor. After two years at OSU I accepted an invitation to rejoin the Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Kansas as faculty. I am active in the fields of pediatric psychology and health psychology serving on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. I am also an Associate Editor for Journal of Child and Family Studies.


Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology, University of Kansas


At the broadest level of abstraction my work is about quantifying individual differences. In collaboration with students and colleagues I have found that smartphones and digital sensors (activity trackers, heart rate monitors) can provide the kinds of data that reveal rich patterns of data about a person that would be lost if we focused only on a group average. We have found that different people have different reasons that they: adhere to the medication prescribed to them, engage in physical activity, eat unhealthy foods, or experience pain. Knowing that people are so different has led us to think that our interventions should be different for each person, and perhaps even different for the same person across contexts. Therefore, we have begun the process of developing digital interventions that adapt to the changing context and person over time. We think that this work has potential to provide the right support, for the right person, at the right moment. We have found that this is a complex way to approach a problem, but we are excited to work with students or colleagues who share our passion for understanding human behavior at a very granular and individualized level.

Research Interests

  • Individual differences
  • Digital interventions
  • Intensive longitudinal data
  • Health promotion
  • Medication adherence


Dr. Cushing teaches courses and mentors students in the Clinical Child Psychology Program and the Departments of Applied Behavioral Science and Psychology at the University of Kansas.  He will be accepting applications this fall for a new graduate student for the 2019-2020 academic year.  In years when Dr. Cushing is accepting applicants, those interested in: 1) individual differences research; 2) health behavior such as physical activity, diet, medication adherence, or sleep; and 3) development and testing of digital interventions for self-management or health promotion. The deadline for applications is December 1, 2018. 

Teaching Interests

  • PSYC 333: Child Development
  • ABSC/PSYC 812: Behavior and Personality Assessment of Children
  • ABSC/PSYC 825: Social Development
  • ABSC 705: Pediatric Psychology
  • PSYC 815: Design and Analysis for Developmental Research

Selected Publications

Bejarano, C. M., & Cushing, C. C. (2018). Dietary motivation and hedonic hunger predict palatable food consumption: An intensive longitudinal study of adolescents. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 52, 773-786. doi:10.1093/abm/kax051

Fedele, D. A., Cushing, C. C., Fritz, A., Amaro, C. M., & Ortega, A. (2017). Mobile health interventions for improving health outcomes in youth: A meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics, 171, 461-469. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.0042

Cushing, C. C. (2017). eHealth applications in pediatric psychology. In M. C. Roberts & R. G. Steele (Eds.), Handbook of Pediatric Psychology 5th ed. (pp. 201-211). ISBN: 9781462529780

Cushing, C. C., Mitchell, T. B., Bejarano, C. M., Walters, R. W., Crick, C. J., & Noser, A. E. (2017). Bidirectional associations between psychological states and physical activity in adolescents: A mHealth pilot study. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 42, 559-568. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsw099 (Refereed)

Brannon, E. E., Cushing, C. C., Crick, C. J., & Mitchell, T. B. (2016). The promise of wearable sensors and ecological momentary assessment measures for dynamical systems modeling in adolescents: A feasibility and acceptability study . Translational Behavioral Medicine, 6(4), 558-565. DOI:10.1007/s13142-016-0442-4

Brannon, E. E., & Cushing, C. C. (2015). A systematic review: Is there an app for that? Translational science of pediatric behavior change for physical activity and dietary interventions. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 40. DOI:10.1093/jpepsy/jsu108

Cushing, C. C., Peugh, J. L., Brode, C. S., Inge, T. H., Benoit, S. C., & Zeller, M. H. (2015). Longitudinal trends in food cravings following roux-en-y gastric bypass in an adolescent sample. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, 11(1), 14-18. DOI:10.1016/j.soard.2014.05.035

Cushing, C. C., Jensen, C. D., Miller, M. B., & Leffingwell, T. R. (2014). Motivational interviewing for adolescent health behavior: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 82(6), 1212-1218. DOI:10.1037/a0036912

Cushing, C. C., Walters, R. W., & Hoffman, L. (2014). Aggregated N-of-1 randomized controlled trials: Modern data analytics applied to a clinically valid method of intervention effectiveness . Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 39, 138-150. DOI:10.1093/jpepsy/jst083

Cushing, C. C., Brannon, E. E., Suorsa, K. I., & Wilson, D. K. (2014). Systematic review and meta-analysis of health promotion interventions for children and adolescents using an ecological framework. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 39(8), 949-962. DOI:10.1093/jpepsy/jsu042

Cushing, C. C., & Suorsa, K. I. (2014). Intensive treatments for pediatric obesity: An acceptability analogue study . ChildrenΓÇÖs Health Care, 43(3), 169-185. DOI:10.1080/02739615.2013.837823

Cushing, C. C., Benoit, S. C., Peugh, J. L., Reiter-Purtill, J. Inge, T. H., & Zeller, M. H. (2014). Longitudinal trends in hedonic hunger following Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass in adolescents. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, 10(1), 125-130. DOI:10.1016/j.soard.2013.05.009

Cushing, C. C., Bishop-Gilyard, C. T., Boles, R. E., Reiter-Purtill, J. & Zeller, M. H. (2013). Caregiver concern in adolescents with persistent obesity: The importance of quality of life assessment. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 34(1), 9-14. DOI:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31827c1345

Jensen, C. D., Cushing, C. C., Aylward, B. S., Craig, J. T., Sorell, D. M., & Steele, R. G. (2011). Effectiveness of motivational interviewing interventions for adolescent substance use behavior change: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79(4), 433-440. DOI:10.1037/a0023992

Cushing, C. C., & Steele, R. G. (2010). A meta-analytic review of eHealth interventions for pediatric health promoting and maintaining behaviors. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 35, 937-949. DOI:10.1093/jpepsy/jsq023

Cushing, C. C., Jensen, C. D., & Steele, R. G. (2010). An evaluation of a personal electronic device to enhance self-monitoring adherence in a pediatric weight management program using a multiple baseline design. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36, 301-307. DOI:10.1093/jpepsy/jsq074

Grants & Other Funded Activity

Cushing, C. C. (Co-Principal), Fedele, D. A. (Co-Principal), Fleming, K. K. (Co-Investigator), Gierer, S. (Co-Investigator), McQuaid, B. L. (Co-Investigator), Patton, S. R. (Co-Investigator), Prabhakaran, S. (Co-Investigator). ReACT an Adaptive Mobile Health Intervention for Adolescent Asthma. $775,827, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Current Status: Funded

Cushing, C. C. (Principal), Patton, S. R. (Co-Investigator), Clements, M. A. (Co-Investigator). Development of the microSMBG Platform for Adolescents with T2D. $33,000, Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles and Nutrition. Current Status: Funded

Schurman, Jennifer V. (Co-Principal), Cushing, Christopher C. (Co-Principal), Friesen, Craig A., (Co-Investigator), Precision Medicine in Pediatric Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Individualized Assessment for Tailored Treatment, $38,883, Submitted 03/17/2015. Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded

Cushing, C. C. (Principal), Smartphones-Promoting Exercise Through Ecology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institutes of HealthΓÇöDivision of Loan Repayment, Submitted 09/01/2014 (09/01/2014). Federal. Status: Funded.

Cushing, C. C. (Principal), Pathophysiology and Treatment of Pediatric Functional Abdominal Pain, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, $71,552, (02/01/2015 - 07/31/2019). Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded.

Cushing, C. C. (Principal), Dynamic Drivers of Adolescent Physical Activity, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institutes of HealthΓÇöDivision of Loan Repayment, Submitted 09/01/2014 (09/01/2015 - 12/31/2017). Federal. Status: Funded.

Cushing, C. C. (Principal), Ecological Momentary Assessment of Affect and Health Behavior, Society of Pediatric Psychology, $20,000, Submitted 09/15/2014 (01/01/2015 - 12/31/2015). Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded.

Cushing, C. C. (Principal), Smartphones-Promoting Exercise Through Ecology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institutes of Health CoDivision of Loan Repayment, Submitted 09/01/2012 (09/01/2013 - 12/31/2014). Federal. Status: Funded.


  • American Psychological Association, Division 54, 53, & 38
  • Society of Behavioral Medicine