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Research Projects at CFR

Center for Contextual Genetics and Prevention Science (CGAPS)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: NIDA
Project Period: 2009-2014

In what ways does the unique genetic makeup of an individual combine with the social context in which he or she lives to determine drug use and sexual risk tendencies?

CGAPS is a Core Center of Excellence funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The overall mission of CGAPS is to gain a better understanding of the development of drug use and sexual risk behavior among children, adolescents, and young adults. Most of the research about these important public health concerns has focused solely on the environmental contexts in which youth spend time: families, peer groups, neighborhoods, and schools. Social scientists have generated an impressive body of research that describes the ways in which these important influences either deter or create risks for youth drug abuse and sexual risk behavior. An important dimension, however, is missing, one that is critical for understanding why some youth abstain from risk behavior altogether, others engage in occasional risk behavior, and some develop serious problems that can lead to substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections including HIV. The missing dimension is each youth's unique genetic makeup. Currently, the ways in which an individual's unique genetic makeup combine with the social context in which he or she lives to determine drug use and sexual risk tendencies are not well understood. We hope that the research that CGAPS sponsors will provide greater insight into this complex interplay and, in turn, influence prevention models currently used to deter involvement with drugs and sexual risk behavior. To learn more, please visit www.cgaps.uga.edu.

African American Men's Project (AMP)

Principal Investigator: Steve Kogan
Funding Agencies: NIDA
Year Project Began: 2010

What factors influence the successes and challenges of young adult, African American men?

AMP is a survey project that gives young black men the opportunity to respond to questions about the experiences that shape their lives and about the challenges they face. The understanding gained from AMP will be used to develop programs to support and empower young African American men. Five hundred men from 19 to 22 years have been recruited to participate in this longitudinal study. Each participant has completed one computerized survey and will be asked to complete two more over the next three years. Participants have been recruited from these middle and south Georgia counties: Sumter, Crisp, Turner, Tift, Colquitt, Mitchell, Coffee, Dooly, Ben Hill, Irwin and Berrien.

SAAF Healthy Adults Project (SHAPE)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: NICHD
Project Period: 2008-2013

What influences affect psychological adjustment, allostatic load, and substance use among rural African Americans as they make the transition into adulthood?

SHAPE extended the data collection with the participants of the SAAF project as they entered young adulthood. The primary purpose was to assess the trajectory of rural African Americans from early adolescence (age 11) to emerging adulthood (age 22) particularly focusing on self-regulation, physical health, and substance use patterns. Particular attention is being paid to the ways in which familial and extrafamilial relationship networks, involvement in rural institutions (e.g., churches), and racial discrimination from early adolescence through later adolescence affect the transition to adulthood. Additionally, there is an emphasis on biological markers of health in this project. This exploration will concentrate on allostatic load, a measure of chronic physical wear and tear caused by the body’s stress response in meeting environmental demands. This facet of the research is designed to uncover clues about the origins of health disparities between Caucasian and African American populations.

SAAF Technology Dissemination Model (SAAF-TDM)

Principal Investigator: Carol MacKinnon-Lewis (USF), Christina Grange (UGA)
Funding Agency: NIDA
Project Period: 2012-2014

Is a live, web-based training as effective as a traditional facilitator (in-person) training at preparing facilitators to implement a universal preventative intervention program with strong fidelity?

In this pilot project 40 facilitators in Gadsen County, Florida will receive 24 hours of facilitator training for the Strong African American Families (SAAF) program. A two-wave pre-post design will be conducted with four groups of 10 facilitators to examine the feasibility of an internet-based training intervention to foster facilitators’ fidelity to the SAAF intervention model. After each cohort completes training, they participate in four different four hour meetings to review curriculum content. Facilitator fidelity to the intervention will also be assessed based on independent observer ratings during implementation session with families. Recruitment for this project began in July 2012 and will conclude in February 2014.

SAAF-Steps: A Dual Inoculation Approach to Alcohol Prevention among African American Youth

Principal Investigator: Steven Kogan
Funding Agency: NIAAA
Project Period: 2012-2017

How effective is a dual-inoculation strategy of prevention programming in minimizing risk behaviors among youth?

In this study, we will recruit a sample of 460 African American families into a four-arm randomized prevention trial and evaluate the differential alcohol prevention effects of (a) a dual inoculation of prevention (youth receive SAAF at age 11 and SAAF–T at age 14) compared to (b) receipt of only one preadolescent inoculation (SAAF only), (c) one mid-adolescent inoculation (SAAF-T only) or (d) no inoculation (control). Our specific aims regarding the efficacy of the dual inoculation strategy are to test the following hypotheses: (1) Rural African American youth randomly assigned to participate in two developmentally appropriate prevention inoculations (SAAF and SAAF–T) will demonstrate lower rates of alcohol use initiation and frequency of use in high school than will youth who receive one (SAAF only or SAAF–T only) or no inoculations. We also expect that single inoculation youth (SAAF only or SAAF–T only) will demonstrate lower rates of alcohol use in high school than will control youth receiving no inoculations, and (2) Effects on alcohol use of a dual inoculation strategy will be mediated by consistently high levels of intervention-targeted protective processes across adolescence.

Home-based Prevention for African American Families in Rural Communities (PROSAAF2)

Principal Investigator: Steven Beach
Funding Agency: NICHD
Project Period: 2012-2017

Will a home-based program designed to strengthen marital relationships among rural African American families with an early adolescent help to minimize the impact of economic distress?

In this project, we will recruit 400 economically distressed, two-parent rural African American families who are rearing a youth age 10-14. Families will be randomly assigned to the ProSAAF program or a minimal-contact control condition. ProSAAF consists of 6 structured, 1.5-hour sessions conducted in families’ homes plus two “booster” sessions. The curricula is designed to enhance stress-buffering couple relationship processes, competence-promoting parenting practices, and early adolescent self-regulatory processes. Baseline, 8, 16, and 24-month assessments will be obtained of adolescents’ academic, social, and self-regulatory competence; internalizing and externalizing problems; sexual activity; and substance use and intervention-targeted processes. Recruitment for this project began in January 2013 and will involve a dozen counties located throughout middle Georgia.

Great Start Georgia: Home Visiting Technical Assistance, Training, and Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Anita Brown
Funding Agency: Governor’s Office of Children and Families
Project Period: 2010-2015

In 2010, Georgia was awarded five years of funding to deliver evidence-based home visiting as a prevention strategy to support maternal, infant, and early childhood well-being among at-risk families. The Governor’s Office of Children and Families issued a subcontract to the Center for Family Research to provide the technical assistance, training, and evaluation of this effort and to provide support for its implementation within a locally-organized system of care called Great Start Georgia. CFR provides state leadership on the TA and Training for Healthy Families Georgia as well as Parents as Teachers and has coordinated the TA/Training of Early Head Start-Home Based Option and Nurse Family Partnership TA and Training. CFR designed the Georgia Home Visiting Information System, GEOHVIS, to support coordinated program implementation and ensure the standardized collection of benchmark data to monitor program effectiveness. In 2012, CFR designed the Great Start Georgia website (greatstartgeorgia.org) and continues to maintain it.

The Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting Enhanced Engagement Protocol Implementation

Principal Investigator: Anita Brown
Funding Agency: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Project Period: 2011-2013

CFR is responsible for the technical assistance and training associated with an Enhanced Engagement Protocol designed to increase the numbers of at risk families who enroll in home visiting as well as extend the number of months they remain engaged so as to receive full benefit of the program. The protocol is based on the recruitment and retention protocol that CFR has utilized for the past several decades to enhance research participation. The primary strategy is the activity of a Community Peer Liaison (CPL) who is a graduate of the home visiting program and works in cooperation with the family support worker to support a family’s involvement in home visiting.

Great Start Georgia: Evaluation of the Information and Referral Center and the Enhanced Engagement Protocol

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agency: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Project Period: 2011-13

In a competitive proposal submitted to HRSA as part of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, the Great Start Georgia leadership team described two activities that would be crucial to Georgia’s home visiting network infrastructure: (1) a Department of Public Health Central Intake and Referral Center and (2) an Enhanced Engagement Strategy designed to improve home visiting engagement rates of at risk families. CFR is responsible for evaluating both of these initiatives. For the Information and Referral Center evaluation, CFR will compare the IRC-resourced counties with matched control counties to examine number of families linked to resources and rates of utilization of public and privately funded services for young children. A randomized trial is being conducted for the Enhanced Engagement Protocol evaluation allowing a comparison of engagement and

retention rates between the intervention and control groups.

Governor’s Office for Children and Families Grants Management System Design and Development Project

Principal Investigator: Anita Brown
Funding Agency: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Project Start Date: March 1, 2012

In March 2012, CFR was awarded a subcontract from GOCF to design and develop a grants management system that would support their office in the efficient and effective distribution of dollars to local communities to make a positive impact in various areas that align with GOCF’s mission (http://children.georgia.gov/). CFR partnered with the Information Technology Outreach Services of UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to transfer GOCF’s current information system to UGA and begin to administer it while at the same time beginning to design a more comprehensive and facile information system. CFR staff provide technical assistance and training on the information system. An additional component of the contract includes the evaluation of the program efficacy of all GOCF grantees.

Strong African American Families Project (SAAF)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agency: NIAAA
Project Period: 1999-2011

How can parents and communities help preadolescents to make positive choices as they gain increasing autonomy throughout adolescence?

In 1999, CFR received funds to develop and test a family-based prevention program for rural African American preadolescents and their primary caregivers. Based on more than 10 years of research conducted at the University of Georgia and Iowa State University with African American families, the curriculum was developed under the leadership of Dr. Virginia Molgaard of Iowa State. Cultural relevance was a priority; it was ensured via a series of meetings in which African American parents and youth provided feedback on the curriculum. The result was SAAF, a 7-week family-based program designed to help 11- and 12-year-olds make positive choices as they enter adolescence. Parents and youth meet separately for 1 hour, then work together for another hour in family groups to apply their new skills. More than 600 families participated in this clinical trial. As of July 2008, six of the numerous planned follow-up assessments have been conducted, and positive effects of the program continue to be found three years after participation. The following statement from a mother is an example of how families feel about SAAF “I wish that we could keep going for the rest of the year. I really enjoy using the tools I learned … is a very interesting and fantastic program. Very helpful.” The SAAF curriculum is now available for use by community organizations, government agencies, and church groups. It has been adopted by agencies in Georgia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, California, Iowa, and Washington, DC.

The Family and Community Health Study (FACHS)

Principal Investigators: Ronald Simons (UGA), Carolyn Cutrona (ISU), Frederick Gibbons (University of Connecticut), Robert Philibert (University of Iowa)
Funding Agencies: NIMH, NIDA, Centers for Disease Control
Project Period: 1995-2012

How do family, community, and genetic influences affect well-being among middle-aged African American women? (Cutrona)

How do these influences affect well-being among African American teens as they make the transition to adulthood? (Gibbons)

What factors influence the development of depression and antisocial behavior among African American young adults? (Simons)

What genetic and gene-environment interaction factors contribute to the development of depression, substance use, and other health problems among African American women? (Philibert)

FACHS is a large-scale longitudinal study involving more than 800 rural African American families in Iowa and Georgia. The initial criterion for study participation was the presence of a 9- or 10-year-old in the home. Throughout the first 10 years of the study, four assessments were conducted with these target youth and their primary caregivers, secondary caregivers, and older siblings. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided supplementary funding to support exploration of community influences. In 2007, NIH provided 5 years of funding that will support additional data collection with the primary caregivers and their romantic partners, the older siblings, and with the target adolescents who are now emerging into adulthood (some of beginning families of their own), their close friends, and their romantic partners. During this project period, the study will also begin to focus on gene-environment interaction and its influence on participants’ emotional and physical health.

The Rural African American Families Health Project (RAAFH)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agency: NIDA
Project Period: 2006-2012

Will a family-based program designed to support rural African American teens in making positive decisions and avoiding risky behaviors be effective?

RAAFH is a randomized clinical trial, involving approximately 500 families, that is being conducted in six counties in Georgia. Its purpose is to test the efficacy of the Strong African American Families–Teen (SAAF–T) program, a 5-week, family-based intervention designed to delay the onset of alcohol use and to prevent the use of illicit substances and engagement in risky sexual behaviors among rural African American adolescents. Posttest and long-term follow-up assessments from families who participate in SAAF–T will be compared with those of families assigned to an attention-control group, who participate in a program designed to enhance health and fitness.

The SAAF-Teen Program: Economic Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Phaedra Corso
Funding Agency: NIDA
Project Period: 2008-2013

In 2008, NIDA funded an economic evaluation of the SAAF-T program. The efficacy of this program, targeted for youth, ages 14-16 and their primary caregivers, and designed to minimize risky behaviors and support successful transition to young adulthood was explored in the RAAFH project. Two additional data assessments were collected from participating families as part of this economic evaluation. Data indicating program outcomes were considered and program requirements (time burden and resources) were calculated to determine the cost effectiveness of program implementation.

Adults in the Making Project (AIM)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: NIDA and W. T. Grant Foundation
Project Period: 2004-2010

How can parents and other supportive adults help African American teens make a positive transition to adulthood?

AIM is a federally funded research study designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a 6-week, family-based program created to support African American teens in their positive transition to adulthood. In 2006, W. T. Grant Foundation provided additional funding to allow an exploration of the influence that supportive adults other than an adolescent’s parents might have on the transition to adulthood. In this clinical trial, families were randomly assigned to participate in one of three conditions: (1) the family-based treatment, (2) the family-based treatment plus a 1-day workshop for supportive adults other than parents, or (3) a control condition. Substance use is the key outcome under study.

The Connections Project

Principal Investigator: Steve Kogan
Funding Agencies: NIDA
Project Period: 2006-2011

What health issues concern rural African American young adults?

Connections had a two-pronged purpose: (1) to explore various health issues that are relevant for rural African American adults after they have left the high school environment, and (2) to test a sampling strategy, Respondent Driven Sampling, that has been used with other difficult-to-reach populations. Data were collected from about 300 young adults between the fall of 2007 and winter of 2008. Participants completed a 90-minute questionnaire on a laptop computer and were later asked to refer up to three other people for participation. This study was used to inform a larger-scale study of African American Men’s Health (see AMP).

Program for Strong African American Marriage (ProSAAM)

Principal Investigator: Steven Beach
Funding Agencies: John Templeton Foundation and Administration for Children and Families
Year Project Began: 2005-2008

Is ProSAAM, a program designed to strengthen African Americans’ marriages, effective?

ProSAAM is a 3-year intervention study designed to find the best ways for African American couples to keep their relationships strong and to reach the goals they have set for themselves. It was also designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the program’s educational curriculum, which is based on the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP). The 500 couples who participated in ProSAAM were randomly assigned to a skills-based intervention group, an intercessory prayer plus skills-based intervention group, or a control group. The first group received the traditional PREP curriculum; the second group also received the PREP curriculum and were asked to pray for their partners; and the third group received a book.. As of July 2008, data analyses were underway to determine the program’s effectiveness.

Promoting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF1)

Principal Investigator: Steven Beach
Funding Agencies: Administration for Children and Families
Project Period: 2006-2011

Is ProSAAF, a program designed to strengthen both marriages and parenting skills among African American couples, effective?

Growing together as a couple is one of the greatest blessings and challenges in life. Although children are also a blessing, disagreements about parenting can be some of the most difficult for couples to resolve. ProSAAF is a 5-year research program designed to discover ways in which African American couples can strengthen their relationships and build on those strengths to enhance their parenting skills. This program will include 460 African American couples, 230 of whom will participate in the ProSAAF educational program. The six weekly sessions focus on relationship and parenting enrichment, with facilitators visiting and reviewing materials with participating couples. The other 230 couples will review written materials on their own without facilitator input. Data will be gathered from all participants to assess the benefits that participation affords.

Healthy Families Georgia Program Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Year Project Began: 1999-2010

Is the Healthy Families Georgia home visiting program effective in promoting positive parenting and preventing child abuse?

Healthy Families Georgia (HFG) is part of the national Healthy Families America initiative. This home visitation program is designed to help new parents adjust to their new role and learn how to provide safe, nurturing contexts for their children’s growth. As part of a collaborative effort among the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (hyperlink to http://www.gactfc.com), Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (hyperlink to http://www.preventchildabusega.org), and communities throughout Georgia, HFG has been serving the needs of first-time parents at risk since 1993.

The Governor’s Office for Children and Families contracted with CFR to conduct an ongoing evaluation of HFG. Outcome data have been collected since July 2000. The Healthy Families Georgia Information System (HFGIS) was developed by CFR staff and implemented in August 2003. Through this web-based database, both process and outcome data can be entered at the site level and stored in a central location at UGA. In addition to their ongoing management of HFGIS, CFR staff aggregate process and outcome data from the system to report periodically on statewide trends and provide an in-depth program evaluation focusing on the overall effectiveness of HFG.

In 2010, the Governor’s Office of Children and Families was funded to implement the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting project. Healthy Families Georgia programs continued in multiple communities as a result of this effort and the evaluation was folded into the larger evaluation of this program.