Biobehavioral Health Alumni Profile: Spring Chenoa Cooper Robbins, Ph.D.

Spring Chenoa Cooper Robbins


B.S. 2002, Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D. 2006, Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University

Current Position

Senior Lecturer, Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Centre (STIRC); Coordinator of the Masters in HIV, STIs, and Sexual Health (MHSSH) Counselling Stream, The University of Sydney

On the Ph.D. program, in her words:

“Biobehavioral Health is a visionary program. In every position since I’ve left the program, people have been astounded at the type of training I received there. The cross-disciplinary content, brought together in one program, is where the future of health lies. I think every health professional could be trained in biobehavioral health.”

Current areas of professional interest are:

Health Education concerning HPV and other Vaccine Preventable Diseases; Sexual Health throughout the Life-span; Menstrual Cycle and Menstrual Events, including Menarche and Menopause; Sexual Responding and Pleasure; Prevention of STI and HIV Transmission; Harm Reduction; Health Communication; Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

Doctoral Thesis

The Relationship Among Menstrual Learning, Attitudes, and Communication in African American Women of Differing Socioeconomic Status

Brief description:We used a mixed methods design to understand a sample of African American women’s learning, attitudes and communication related to menstruation. Using a grounded theory approach, we found a strong theme in the desire by lower socioeconomic African American women for better communication on menarche, menstruation, and menopause. However, they had a history of negative discourse and avoidance of discourse surrounding menstrual events.

This qualitaitve data informed a questionnaire to measure specific menstrual items learned, sources of information for each item, and whether the item was learned before or after menarche. Similarly, the instrument measured participants’ sharing of this information with others in their lives. In addition, attitudes toward menstruation were measured using three specific subscales: pleasantness, annoyance, and secrecy. Some of the results illustrated that: mothers were the source of menstrual information that was cited most often; most types of menstrual information were augmented after menarche. On average, the African American women disagreed with the attitude that menstruation could be a pleasant or positive experience; the participants were ambivalent about being secretive or open about their menstrual periods. Socioeconomic status did not impact the relationships observed in our study.

This study has important implications, including possible ways to enhance menstrual education and the public health implications of these changes.

Doctoral advisor

Patricia B. Koch