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Month: July 2019

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Christopher Houck

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Christopher Houck

Christopher Houck, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Human Behavior departments at Brown University. He currently works with Dr. Valerie Myers on a project titled, “An Emotion Regulation Intervention for Early Adolescent Risk Behavior Prevention” which is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development (HD089979).

The program, Project Trac, originally geared toward educating adolescents on sexual health, was proven effective at targeting emotional regulation and reducing sexual risk among middle schoolers and high schoolers. Through tablet-based gaming, the current intervention focuses on teaching adolescents’ skills for managing their emotions to reduce poor decision-making that can lead to engaging in a variety of risky behaviors, like substance use or fighting. The overall goal of the current study is to provide an engaging, digital format to deliver the effective emotional regulation program; delivering the intervention through this technology reduces implementation costs and allows for flexibility in order to reach a wider audience.

Dr. Houck has also collaborated with Klein Buendel as a Co-Investigator on a project funded by the National Institute of Justice titled “Partner Violence Prevention for Middle School Boys: A Dyadic Web-Based Intervention” (2014-MU-CX-4002). The aim of the study was to develop a web-based intervention to reduce the risk of dating violence among middle-school aged males. The engaging, web-based intervention, to be used by parents and adolescents together, was based on the large empirical literature linking emotion regulation deficits to violent behavior as well as numerous studies showing that parental involvement is crucial to offset dating violence risk. The results from the pilot-testing were promising and a larger randomized controlled trial will begin in the fall.

In addition to adolescent emotional regulation and risky behaviors research, Dr. Houck is a licensed psychologist and provides services to children and adolescents at Rhode Island Hospital in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He works with patients affected by family illness and dealing with both psychological and medical problems. Dr. Houck completed his postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric psychology at Brown University in Rhode Island. He received the Psychology Research Mentor Awards from the Alpert Medical School at Brown University Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior in 2017. In addition to his work at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, he is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

Computer-based Learning for End-of-Life Care in Prisons

Computer-based Learning for End-of-Life Care in Prisons

In a recent publication in the Journal of Forensic Nursing, authors from The Pennsylvania State University and Klein Buendel describe, in detail, the design and development of a computer-based learning program for geriatric and end-of-life (EOL) care for incarcerated people. The program, called Enhancing Care for the Aged and Dying in Prison (ECAD-P), was funded by a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant to Klein Buendel from the National Institute on Aging.

Content creation was based on the Phase I Principal Investigators’ paper-based EOL Toolkit. The systematic design and development of the training program was guided by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Framework for Going to Full Scale. The Journal of Forensic Nursing paper describes the painstaking processes of designing a program logo, recording video testimonials, creating graphic novels, incorporating visually-stimulating images, confirming reading level, and programming the functionality of the media-rich, interactive computer-based training program. The final ECAD-P program has six modules which take approximately 2.5 hours to complete in one or more sessions.

The STTR Phase I and Phase II projects were funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (AG049570). The Phase I Multiple Principal Investigators, Dr. Janice Penrod and Dr. Susan Loeb, are from The Pennsylvania State University. The Phase II Multiple Principal Investigators, Dr. Susan Loeb and Dr. Valerie Myers, are from The Pennsylvania State University and Klein Buendel, respectively. Other paper coauthors include Rachel Wion from The Pennsylvania State University, Tiffany Jerrod from Klein Buendel, and Sophia Strickfaden from Johnson & Wales University. ECAD-P was programmed by the Creative Team at Klein Buendel.

Physical Activity Maintenance in African American Men

Physical Activity Maintenance in African American Men

In a recent publication in mHealth, Dr. Robert Newton, Dr. Valerie Myers, and their coauthors describe the development of a smartphone app to help African American men maintain physical activity. The formative research was funded by a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant to Klein Buendel from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities.

African American men experience higher rates of morbidity and mortality from several chronic diseases that have low physical activity as a modifiable risk factor. For example, increased levels of physical activity have been shown to reduce the risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Yet, African American men’s levels of regular physical activity remain low.

The study set out to develop and test the feasibility of a prototype smartphone app to promote physical activity maintenance in African American men. The publication describes formative research (focus groups), user-centered design, and evaluation (usability testing and one-month beta testing) of the MobileMen app through an iterative process with participants from the target population.

MobileMen and its learning activities were designed with a Social Cognitive Theory framework. The programmed app included a dashboard, learning activities, a prompting system, an activity tracker, and rewards.

Users reported above average satisfaction with the app. They also rated the app as user-friendly, helpful, enjoyable, and culturally relevant. The participants reported willingness to use the app to improve their physical activity. Rates of app use and other data are reported in the paper. A full description of the methods, results, conclusions, strengths, and limitations of the feasibility study, as well as a discussion on the inclusion of nutrition information, can be found in the mHealth publication.

The STTR Phase I project was funded by grant number MD010304 (Dr. Robert Newton, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Principal Investigator). Coauthors include Dr. Valerie Myers and Tiffany Jerrod from Klein Buendel, Leah Carter and Jessica Romain from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and Dr. Derek Griffith from Vanderbilt University.