The proposed Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) is a five-year plan to develop the candidate into an independent scientist capable of developing sustainable, community-based interventions to prevent mental health disorders among low-income urban youth. The candidate will achieve the following training goals: (1) to develop expertise in coping skills-based preventive interventions for highly stressed youth;(2) to gain expertise in applying community partnership methods, such as action research, to develop preventive interventions that optimally fit the community;(3) to develop methodological skills for evaluating community-based preventive interventions;and (4) to acquire a deeper understanding of action research by developing tools for evaluating community partnership. The primary research aim of the K23 training plan is to evaluate an adapted version of the evidence-based Coping With Stress course (Clarke et al., 1995) for highly stressed African American adolescents living in urban poverty. The intervention will be adapted in partnership with community stakeholders and delivered in the novel setting of neighborhood after-school programs, in order to increase adolescents'access to the service and to promote their engagement in competence enhancing community programs. Consistent with the theoretical model of coping socialization (Kliewer 1994;2006), the adapted intervention is designed to increase realistic control appraisals and enhance coping skills as a means to preventing mental health problems. The candidate will conduct an open trial pilot study of the intervention using a pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design to evaluate the integrity, acceptability, and initial effectiveness of the intervention, to examine hypothesized mediators of intervention effects, and to explore the effect of community partnership on the integrity and acceptability of the intervention.
Growing up in urban poverty is a shared underlying risk factor for a variety of mental health disorders. A particularly debilitating aspect of urban poverty is the presence of persistent uncontrollable stressors. By training youth to recognize and respond to stressors that are outside of their control, the proposed intervention has the potential to reduce the impact of urban poverty on child and adolescent mental health and to inform the design of interventions for other highly stressed, underserved populations.