With substance abuse concerns plaguing tribal communities, health preventive approaches for American Indian (AI) children need urgent attention. Mainstream programs fall short by failing to speak to AI children on their own terms. Not so with the Family Listening/Circle Program (FL/CP) which integrates an evidence-based family-strengthening core, with cultural values and practices for 4th graders, their parents and elders? Through previous Native American Research Centers for Health funding (Indian Health Service &National Institutes of Health partnership) the FL/CP was created and piloted by community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnerships between the University of New Mexico Center for Participatory Research and three tribal communities: Pueblo of Jemez, Ramah Band of Navajo and Mescalero Apache Nation. FL/CP fills a gap in substance abuse prevention by recapturing historic traditions of cultural transmission, such as family dinner story telling where elders connect with children, supporting enhanced child-family communication and psycho-social coping through traditional dialogue, indigenous languages and empowerment where children and families create community action projects addressing community substance abuse. With initial FL/CP pilot and feasibility research completed, Tribal Research Teams (TRTs) from the Pueblo of Jemez, Ramah Band of Navajo and Mescalero Apache Nation are now in place for full program implementation and effectiveness testing through a longitudinal quasi-experimental design involving a long-term, multi-tribal/academic research partnership. Under this five-year R01 effectiveness trial, tribal partners are committed to assessing the program's effectiveness and disseminating the approach and intervention within Indian Country as a best practice in reducing substance abuse health disparities, with TRTs collaborating on all research activities, implementation, interpretation/analysis, and dissemination plans.
Three specific aims are 1) To rigorously test effectiveness of FLCP;with a comparative longitudinal design within and across the tribes, with 4th graders to prevent substance initiation/use and strengthen families;2) Through CBPR, support TRTs to transform their research capacities into local prevention research infrastructures and partnering;3) To assess additional program effects on other health/education programs and leadership within the tribes. In sum, this multi-tribal/academic partnership builds on accomplishments to test the effectiveness of an innovative intervention. This grant provides an unparalleled opportunity to reduce substance abuse in three tribal communities, strengthen tribal research capacities, and impact substance abuse prevention research designs nationally, by illustrating how CBPR processes can integrate evidence-based and cultural-centered practices to create effective programs that generate community ownership and sustainability.

Public Health Relevance

The Family Listening/Circle Program (FL/CP) is an intergenerational culturally-centered and evidence-based prevention program supported by positive results and outcomes in reducing substance abuse risk factors for elementary school children. Tribal specific curriculum versions, Ramah Navajo, Mescalero Apache, and Jemez Pueblo, created through community-based participatory research, are designed to focus on addressing community-wide substance abuse challenges through enhanced child-family communication and coping skills utilizing traditional dialogue, indigenous languages, and contemporary empowerment approaches. FL/CP fills a gap in substance abuse prevention for American Indian children, families and populations by recapturing historic traditions of cultural transmission, such as elders telling stories at dinner, and other bidirectional intergenerational learning.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
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Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Crump, Aria
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University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
Family Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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