As an Extension Specialist, Dr. Payne's overall goal is to improve health and well-being through research, education, and outreach programs that result in the delivery of quality and sustainable recreation, parks, and wellness programs/services.
Her research examines the effects of leisure behavior on aspects of health and well-being among older adults. More specifically, she examines the relationship between leisure style and health of older adults with chronic conditions and the role of local parks and recreation agencies in health promotion and health behavior change.
She has directed several statewide outreach and research programs such as the Illinois Rural Recreation Development Project, Illinois Senior Wellness Initiative, Take Charge of Your Health: Live Well be Well, and the Illinois Health Care Reform Initiative. Her work has been supported by the State of Illinois Division of Human Services, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Recreation Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.