After years doing behavioral research at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, I’ve returned to full-time consulting. This site hosts examples of my research, writing and media productions on topics such as tobacco harm reduction/vaping, teen depression, science literacy, exercise promotion/weight loss, preventing unplanned pregnancies, and helping low-income youth overcome obstacles to successful adult lives.
Please get in touch if you have a problem or project you’d like to talk about.
–Cheryl K. Olson
• NEW: Not For the Birds , posted February 2024 Tobacco Reporter
• NEW: Putting Faith in Cessation , posted January 2024 Tobacco Reporter
• NEW: A Widening Gap, from the December 2023 issue of Tobacco Reporter
• NEW: Surprising Successes: The uncelebrated triumphs of tobacco harm reduction, from the November 2023 issue of Tobacco Reporter
• NEW: Star Power: When smoking gets better press than vaping , from the October 2023 issue of Tobacco Reporter
NEW: research by Dr. Olson:” Perceptions, intentions and actual use of a consumer nicotine gum ” in Harm Reduction Journal, and “Asynchronous online focus groups : Qualitative research on reduced-risk nicotine products” presented at TSRC 2023.
Also see “Grandfathered” Attitudes: If you are new to the nicotine product industry, there are unpleasant things you need to know about past tobacco industry behavior that affect how U.S. regulators treat you (May 2021 issue).
• Latest book: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Media
Earlier this century, I wrote a grant to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to study the effects of violent video games on the attitudes and behaviors of young teens. Our team at Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital tried to squeeze as much value as possible from those $1.5 million taxpayer dollars, turning out numerous academic papers and chapters.
To share our findings not just with other researchers, but with parents, policymakers, physicians and educators. I wrote Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do (Simon & Schuster, 2008 & 2011) with my spouse and longtime collaborator Larry Kutner. We were taken aback (perhaps naively) by the criticism we received for considering the possibility that video games might have benefits as well as risks. But we were surprised and heartened by the warm reception we received from the gamer community.
Video games have taken me around the world, with academic and popular presentations from Istanbul to South Korea, and radio/TV/print/web interviews with journalists in dozens of countries. If you have concerns or questions about video game effects, this site has information that may help. I’m no longer actively doing research in this area, but continue to write and speak on related issues.