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Month: November 2018

Technology, Social Media and Behavior Change

Technology, Social Media and Behavior Change

Klein Buendel (KB) Senior Scientist, Dr. Valerie Myers, was an invited presenter at The Colorado Cancer Coalition Annual Symposium held November 8-9, 2018 in Lakewood, Colorado. The mission of the Coalition is to eliminate the burden of cancer in Colorado. This year’s symposium, Elevating Personalized Cancer Care in Colorado, shared updates on innovative cancer care in Colorado and provided education and networking opportunities for professionals who work in cancer prevention, control, treatment, and survivorship.

Dr. Myers spoke about Technology, Social Media and Behavior Change in a session on Using Technology and Social Media to Advance Your Mission. She addressed multiple types of mHealth and eHealth technologies and the research behind their use in implementing health behavior change programs. Using her active research project Caminemos Juntas as an example, she was able to showcase how a smartphone app like Caminemos Juntas can be used to help Latina women overcome barriers to physical activity.

Dr. Myers said, “The benefit of technologies and digital health tools is that they have the capacity to be used in the real world with real people. That is their appeal.” She also stressed the importance of the use of digital technologies saying, “People who normally wouldn’t have access to empirically based and theory driven interventions now have access to them, so it really promotes the ability for scale up. I think this is where individual clinical trial-based health and public health come together really well, because you can translate what’s been done in rigorous trials and get it to the people to see if you can move the needle on these health behaviors.”

In addition to its importance, Dr. Myers said that digital health technologies such as mHealth and eHealth are “the way to get interventions in the hands of people that may never have been exposed to this messaging. If it can reach those individuals who have been neglected traditionally by health intervention and also meet people in a place where they feel comfortable and safe and are ready for change, then that excites me.”

KB scientists and staff have been active members of the Colorado Cancer Coalition and its Skin Cancer Task Force for over a decade.

Nightlife Safety Research

Nightlife Safety Research

Dr. Brenda Miller from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) gave a presentation at the 9th Conference and Members’ Meeting of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR) in Lisbon, Portugal, October 24-26, 2018. EUSPR “promotes the development of prevention science, and its application to practice so as to promote human health and well-being through high quality research, evidence based interventions, policies, and practices.” The research presented by Dr. Miller was designed and conducted in collaboration with scientists and staff from Klein Buendel (KB).

The study of nightclub patrons and their social drinking groups, tests an intervention called Nightlife Safety Plans (NSP). NSP is designed to reduce escalation of overuse of alcohol and drugs, physical aggression, and sexual aggression during an evening at the club. NSP relies on social groups that arrive at the club together to identify early signs of problems and to take actions to intercede. The actions are: Outreach, Options, and Out.

Data analyzed in this presentation consisted of 352 groups (961 participants) gathered over 41 Friday and Saturday nights at seven different clubs in the Bay Area of California. Data from online surveys, alcohol breath tests, and biological drug tests (post-test only) were gathered at entrance and exit for pre- and post-test assessments of the intervention effects. Biological measures reveal at least one club patron per group was legally intoxicated (Breath Alcohol Concentration—BAC, >.08%) in 60% of groups and at least one patron was positive for drugs in 50% of the groups. Further, at least one club patron per group experienced physical and/or sexual aggression within 40% of the groups.

Results indicated that experimental groups were significantly more likely to intervene with group members, using a significantly higher number of intervention strategies (Outreach, Options, and Out), to assess situations for physical aggression and sexual harassment, and to respond to friends experiencing sexual harassment. Further, experimental groups used significantly more protective strategies to keep group members safe. Reduced levels of alcohol use and intoxication or impairment (BAC > .05), as assessed by breath tests, were found among the groups in the experimental as compared to the control condition.

In summary, groups provide an opportunity to deliver and implement peer-focused safety strategies to enhance safety during the time spent in the club. The research’s focus on clubs also reaches young adults who are working (two-thirds were not in college), whereas many of these types of interventions are targeted toward college students.

This research was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA022331; Dr. Brenda Miller, Principal Investigator). Collaborators included Veronica Rogers, Dr. Hilary Byrnes, Dr. Mark Johnson, and Dr. Joel Grube from PIRE; and Dr. David Buller and Julia Berteletti from KB.