This application is a resubmission of a Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) first reviewed on February 16, 2007. This K23 application is for Dr. Emily Saez-Santiago. This award will enable Dr. Saez Santiago to continue her development as a patient-oriented researcher in prevention for depression in Latino/a pre-adolescents. Depression is a prevalent mental health disorder in adolescents. Studies have found that Latino/a adolescents are more likely to manifest symptoms of depression than other ethnic groups. Thus, the need for developing and implementing effective prevention programs for Latino pre-adolescents is imperative to reduce the likelihood of onset of depression in adolescence. Dr. Saez- Santiago's goals for this K23 are to 1) develop skills and conduct trials of interventions for the prevention of depression in adolescents, 2) obtain knowledge and experience on methodological aspects related to the implementation and evaluation of school-based prevention interventions, 3) increase skills in developing theory based preventive-interventions for Latinos/as, 4) increase skills in disseminating the findings from research, and 5) prepare her to write competitive research grants. These goals will be achieved trough 1) the mentorship with Dr. Guillermo Bernal and Dr. Irwin Sandier;2) consultation with Dr. Marc Atkins, Dr. Nelson Colon, Dr. David MacKinnon, Dr. Kevin Stark, &Dr. Diana Rivera;3) coursework, workshops, and other structured didactic activities;and 4) the execution of the proposed research project. The proposed study represents a natural progression of Dr. Saez-Santiago line of research with adolescent depression and interventions.
The specific aims of the study are to 1) refine and pilot test a universal prevention program for risk factors of depressive symptoms in Puerto Rican pre-adolescents. 2) train health class teachers to implement the intervention, 3) evaluate the feasibility of implementing the preventive program as an integrated part of the health class curriculum, 4) evaluate the acceptability of the preventive intervention, and 5) evaluate the impact of the intervention on the following mediators of depressive symptoms in preadolescents: self esteem, dysfunctional thoughts, family interactions, social support, and academic performance, and on symptoms of depression and other mental health problems.