The overarching career goal of Yovanska Duarte-Velez, Assistant Research Scientist, at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus (UPR-RP), is to become an independent mental health researcher in clinical interventions for suicidal adolescents and their families, with a specialization in Latino populations. One of her future objectives is to conduct multisite clinical trials of innovative treatments in Puerto Rico ad the United States. Her specific career goals are: 1) develop research skills to conduct randomized clinical trials (RCTs) in real world settings with high risk adolescents;2) develop research skills to conduct cross-cultural and health disparity research in multisite studies;3) gain knowledge of procedures to assess observable family variables and neurobehavioral and neurocognitive markers that may prove to be underlying mechanisms of change in treatment outcomes for suicidal adolescents and incorporate these measures in treatment research;and 4) improve knowledge of and gain experience with statistical analyses used in treatment research. These goals will be achieved through: 1) Drs. Spirito (RCT with suicidal adolescents) and Bernal's (Latino mental health) mentorship;2) consultations with Drs. Canino (multisite &cross-cultural research), Alegria (health disparities &cross-cultural research), Goldston (intervention development), Stout (statistical methods) and Dickstein (neurobehavioral and neurocognitive mechanisms);3) courses, seminars, workshops, and special training;and 4) execution of the proposed research project. The proposed award will be carried out at Brown University for the first two years and at UPR-RP for the last three years. The primary aim of the proposed research is to evaluate the feasibility of a socio-cognitive-behavioral therapy protocol for suicidal behavior (SCBT-SB protocol) with Latino/a adolescents. The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treatment protocol will include developmental and cultural factors in order to optimize treatment outcomes in suicidal Latino/a adolescents. Specifics aims are: 1) refine the treatment protocol to expand its applicability to Latino population in U.S. based on feedback from therapists working with Latino and suicidal adolescents in RI and on a small open trial;2) develop and implement a training program for the protocol;and 3) conduct a pilot RCT of the SCBT-SB versus treatment as usual (TAU). This proposed project's public health significance is evident, as it addresses two Healthy People 2020 Objectives: MHMD HP2020-1: "Reduce the suicide rate" and MHMD HP-2: "Reduce the rate of suicide attempts by adolescents." Its clinical significance lies in the fact that there is little evidence of treatment efficacy for suicidal adolescents and there are evident disparities in the delivery of quality clinical services for Latio populations. Its scientific significance is that it tests the feasibility of a novel treatment apprach that aims to incorporate new perspectives relevant to Latino families and minority youth. It also addresses the third strategic objective of the NIMH, which is to: "Develop new and better interventions that incorporate the diverse needs and circumstances of people with mental illness."
Culturally sensitive treatment for suicidal minority youth and clinical investigators devoted to high suicide risk and underserved population are nearly absent. The proposed training grant allows Dr. Duarte-Velez to gain expertise in treatment development according to the needs and challenges faced by suicidal minority youths (e.g. ethnic, sexual) and their families. The primary aim of the proposed study is to evaluate the feasibility of a novel cognitive behavioral treatment protocol that integrates developmental and cultural factors to target suicidal behavior in Latino/a adolescents.