Adolescent dating violence (ADV) continues to be a major public health problem. The need to address and prevent ADV has received notable attention in recent years. Although it has been documented that ADV occurs at an alarming rate among teens from all backgrounds, there are particular disparities among those who are African American and live in rural communities. My NCMHD Disparities Research and Education Advancing Mission (DREAM) Career Transition Award (K22) is entitled: Project LOVE: Preventing Adolescent Dating Violence among Rural African Americans. As the name implies, the focus of the K22 is to gain additional training and research experience necessary to become an independent prevention researcher who can design, conduct and evaluate community-based intervention trials to prevent ADV among rural African Americans. My academic, clinical, teaching, and research experiences to date have prepared me to successfully enter my next phase of career development. I have received excellent preparation in the areas of mental health, ADV, community-based participatory research (CBPR), and qualitative research design and data analysis. This preparation occurred through my doctoral training in Counseling Psychology, Postdoctoral Fellowship in Public Health, W. K. Kellogg Health Scholars Fellowship in Health Disparities and CBPR, and current faculty position at GUMC. As a psychologist, I have had the opportunity to work clinically with a diverse group of clients. I have provided individual, couples, family, and group therapy. In regards to teaching, I have taught and/or co-taught numerous Psychology and Public Health courses. Some of the relevant courses are: adolescent mental health, counseling early adolescents, human development, cross cultural counseling, music therapy, CBPR, and health education. These courses in one way or another all relate to and/or have informed my research program. In addition to strong institutional support, the institutional environment in which I will complete the extramural phase of the K22 award (i.e., Georgetown University, Georgetown University Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, and The Georgetown Center for Trauma and the Community) coupled with my community partners far exceed those necessary to carry out my proposed career development and research plans. Over the past six years, I have also engaged in multiple research projects aimed at eliminating health disparities. These projects have involved extensive community engagement and collaboration. My current and future research program is designed to use CBPR to decrease health disparities by preventing ADV among African American youth in rural settings. Two critical components of the research are: (a) an examination of social, ecological, and cultural factors that impact ADV, and (b) an examination of the association of ADV with both mental and sexual health. The proposed K22 research plan will build upon my previous research to enable the design and pilot testing of a community-based, culturally-appropriate, effective, and sustainable ADV prevention intervention for rural, African American youth. Thus, my K22 career development goals focus on the development of competence in: Goal 1: research skills focusing on quantitative methods and data analysis and grant writing;Goal 2: racial/ethnic and rural health disparities, which will inform the conceptualization, design and conduct of culturally and geographically appropriate research;Goal 3: the development and implementation of community-based interventions;and Goal 4: the design, conduct, and evaluation of community-based intervention trials. These goals will be accomplished through a comprehensive plan that includes mentoring, expert consultation, community partner collaboration, coursework, instructional programs, tutorials, conference attendance, presentations, publication writing, and teaching. The Project LOVE research plan will build upon previous research by further developing a community-academic partnership that will guide the design and evaluation of an ADV prevention intervention for rural African American adolescents. The following research question guides the study: How can CBPR be used to design and pilot test an ADV prevention intervention appropriate for rural African American adolescents? Our specific aims are:
Aim #1 : To further develop and evaluate the Project LOVE community-academic partnership and community advisory board. Successful completion of this aim will increase partnership research capacity;
Aim #2 : To design a culturally and geographically appropriate community-based ADV prevention intervention for rural African American adolescents aged 10-14;
Aim #3 : To assess the acceptability of the intervention through the use of focus group interviews;
and Aim#4 : To pilot test the intervention to evaluate the feasibility and of intervention design. My previous and current research, coupled with the proposed K22 career development and research plans will provide the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully design, conduct, and evaluate a community-based intervention trial, thereby marking my transition to independent investigator status.
Adolescent dating violence continues to be a major public health problem. Particular disparities exist among adolescents who are African American and live in rural communities. This application includes a career development and research plan that focuses on reducing health disparities by preventing dating violence among rural African American adolescents.