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Reducing Alcohol, Tobacco And Marijuana Use Among African American Youth: New Grant To Pilot On-Line Training Program

Dr. Carol MacKinnon-Lewis from the Department of Child & Family Studies has been awarded a two-year, $659,296 grant from the National Institutes of Health/ National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  Using an internet platform, she and her colleagues will examine factors associated with the effective delivery of on-line training for the dissemination and implementation of the Strong African American Families Program (SAAF), a universal preventive intervention shown to be effective in reducing alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use among African American youth living in rural communities.

The pilot program will be implemented in Gadsden County, unique in Florida because it is the state's only county with an African American majority population – 56% according to the 2010 U.S. Census. It is also one of the poorest counties in Florida, with more than one in three children living below the poverty level.

“Despite huge investments in health care, barriers to the delivery and utilization of effective behavioral health services often lead to limited access to preventive programs, especially for minorities and the poor living in rural areas,” said Dr. MacKinnon-Lewis. “This often results in health disparities for these groups, an issue relevant to NIDA’s mission.”

The success of SAAF is tied to the effectiveness of its community-based implementation system, which involves the training of lay African American community members as facilitators and placing cultural relevance as a priority. 

To date, the training has been conducted face-to-face. The on-line platform will allow for much wider dissemination.

“If we can show that the internet platform is as effective as face to face training, the findings will have significant implications for the delivery of other behavioral health programs," added Dr. MacKinnon-Lewis.

Project partners include Drs. Gene Brody and Christina Grange from the University of Georgia, where the SAAF program was developed.

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