This application is to request a Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) that will enable Dr. Rizzo to continue to develop her programmatic line of research in the prevention of HIV and dating violence among high risk adolescent girls. A growing body of research reveals that dating violence plays a significant role in adolescent girls'HIV risk. DV has been associated with less condom use, younger age at first intercourse, having multiple sex partners and alcohol use prior to sexual encounters. Thus, prevention strategies that address dating violence and HIV risk may hold promise for reducing sexual risk behavior among a particularly at-risk population. In this proposed research plan, a cognitive-behaviorally based intervention to be named "Skills to Manage Aggression in Relationships for Teens" (SMART) will be developed and tested. The program will be implemented with a sample of underserved youth, as economic disadvantage and minority status have been found to be related to increased rates of adolescent dating violence. A primary focus of the intervention will be to address mental health problems (i.e. psychological distress and behavioral dysregulation) that underlie the development and maintenance of both dating violence and sexual risk behavior among adolescent girls. Dr. Rizzo's training goals are to (1) increase her expertise in conducting preventive interventions for HIV, (2) receive intensive clinical and research training in adolescent HIV risk, (3) acquire expertise in conducting research with, and providing clinical treatment for, adolescent girls exposed to dating violence, (4) advance her skills in intervention research with ethnic minority and economically disadvantaged populations, (5) develop R01 -level skills in prevention research methodology and statistics and (6) receive mentorship regarding professional development issues. These training goals will be achieved through a combination of formal coursework and seminars, focused clinical and research experiences, and ongoing close research supervision by members of the mentorship team. The training plan of this K-Award will provide the opportunities needed to research the effects of a preventive intervention for a vulnerable group of young women.

Public Health Relevance

Adolescent dating violence and HIV infection constitute two significant public health problems. A developing literature has linked dating violence to HIV risk, yet no existing preventive interventions have been developed to reduce HIV risk behaviors among adolescent girls victimized in dating relationships. The development of a prevention program for this population is crucial and is consistent with recent public health objectives.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Behavioral and Social Consequences of HIV/AIDS Study Section (BSCH)
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Kamath, Susannah M Allison
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Rhode Island Hospital
United States
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Tolou-Shams, Marina; Rizzo, Christie J; Conrad, Selby M et al. (2014) Predictors of detention among juveniles referred for a court clinic forensic evaluation. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 42:56-65