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Month: November 2022

STAC Parent Module Pilot Study

STAC Parent Module Pilot Study

Klein Buendel collaborator, Dr. Aida Midgett from Boise State University, presented formative research findings from her CTR-IN Pilot Grant at the Mountain West CTR-IN Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 17-18, 2022. Mountain West CTR-IN connects research investigators to mentors, collaborators, and funding opportunities to improve the health and lives of people in mountain west communities, including through research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health. Ms. Mary Buller, President of Klein Buendel, is Dr. Aida’s mentor for the CTR-IN Pilot Grant.

Dr. Midgett presented on the “Development, Acceptability, and Short-Term Outcomes of a Parent Module for Brief, Bullying Bystander Intervention for Middle School Students in Rural, Low-Income Communities.” Her co-author was Dr. Diana Doumas from Boise State University. The project statistician was Ms. Laura Bond from Boise State University. The pilot study used a mixed-methods design to develop a 30-minute pre-recorded Parent Module as a companion training to a brief bullying prevention program for middle schools, called STAC. The study assessed the need, feasibility, acceptability, delivery format preference and immediate outcomes (e.g., knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, and behavioral intentions) of the Parent Module.

As background, the STAC bystander intervention is a 75-minute training that includes didactic and experiential components. It teaches middle school students to act as “defenders” on behalf of targets of bullying through utilizing four intervention strategies: (1) “Stealing the Show” – using humor or distraction to interrupt a bullying situation and remove the attention away from the target; (2) “Turning it Over” – identifying a trusted adult at school, reporting, and asking for help during a bullying incident; (3) “Accompanying Others” – befriending and/or providing support to a peer who was a target of bullying; and (4) “Coaching Compassion” – gently confronting the perpetrator and increasing empathy for the target.

Dr. Midgett reported that preliminary data with 23 parents in the pilot study demonstrated acceptability, relevance, and need and increases in immediate post-training outcomes including knowledge, confidence, self-efficacy, responsibility, and anti-bullying attitudes, as well as parents’ behavioral intentions to support their adolescents to utilize the STAC strategies.

Another aim of Dr. Midgett’s CTR-IN pilot grant is to provide data to support a STTR Fast Track proposal to develop and evaluate a web-based version of the Parent Module as a STAC companion training. The proposal will be submitted through Klein Buendel and the research plan will include a multi-site randomized trial in rural schools. Klein Buendel’s Creative Team will program the web-based Parent Module.

iTRAC Pilot Study

iTRAC Pilot Study

A research team led by Dr. Christopher Houck from Lifespan and the Rhode Island Hospital has published a paper in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics on the feasibility and acceptability of an initial digital iTRAC (Talking About Risk and Adolescent Choices) intervention. Collaborators included colleagues from the Rhode Island Hospital, the University of Oregon, Brown University, Penn State University, and Klein Buendel. iTRAC is a tablet-based intervention to promote emotion regulation skills among middle schoolers as a strategy for reducing risky behavior.

For the pilot study, adolescents aged 12–14 years were recruited from three urban schools for advisory groups (n=15), acceptability testing (n=11), and pilot testing (n=85). Youth advisory boards and expert panels tailored content, resulting in an animated intervention of instructional videos, games, and activities designed to teach emotion regulation strategies to young adolescents. Eighty-five adolescents were randomized to the 4-module digital iTRAC intervention or a wait-list control group. Adolescents and one parent completed baseline and 3-month follow-up questionnaires examining emotion regulation attitudes and behaviors. The adolescent participants also completed behavioral tasks related to distress tolerance.

Eighty-eight percent of those randomized to iTRAC completed all modules. Moderate effect sizes were found from baseline to follow-up on adolescents’ beliefs in the controllability of emotions, awareness of emotions, self-efficacy for managing emotions, perceived access to emotion regulation strategies, and use of emotion regulation strategies. Parent measures of adolescent regulation showed mixed results.

A tablet-based intervention to enhance emotion skills for youth in early adolescence was deemed feasible and demonstrated promising indicators of impact on emotional competence. Increasing adolescents’ awareness of and access to emotion regulation strategies may reduce decisions driven by transient emotions, which in turn may reduce engagement in risky behavior and resultant negative health outcomes. The authors conclude that the brief iTRAC intervention may be used to increase emotional competency among middle schoolers.

Dr. Valerie Myers and Ms. Tiffany Jerrod, both formerly from Klein Buendel, were co-authors on this publication. Research on the full production and evaluation of iTRAC is continuing with an STTR Fast Track grant to Klein Buendel from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Dr. Christopher Houck, Principal Investigator from Lifespan; HD110333). Collaborators on the current study include Dr. Wendy Hadley from the University of Oregon; Dr. David Barker from Rhode Island Hospital; and Ms. Julia Berteletti from Klein Buendel. The iTRAC modules will be programmed by Klein Buendel’s Creative Team.  

Welcome Dr. Kayla Nuss!

Welcome Dr. Kayla Nuss!

Kayla Nuss, Ph.D., is Klein Buendel’s newest Scientist and Principal Investigator. Dr. Nuss comes to Klein Buendel from a post-doctoral fellowship with the Digital Health Lab at the University of Victoria in Canada, where she analyzed de-identified data for a comprehensive digital diabetes intervention program in India. 

In 2021, Dr. Nuss earned her Ph.D. in Bioenergetics from Colorado State University (CSU). Her dissertation was titled “Wearable Fitness Trackers in Physical Activity Research: Accuracy and Effects on Motivation and Engagement.” She also has two Master’s Degrees: one in Health and Exercise Science from CSU and a second in Student Development in Post-Secondary Education from the University of Iowa. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Spanish from Cornell College in Iowa. And she graduated from our local Golden High School!

Dr. Nuss’ research interests center on motivation for physical activity, how wearable technology supports or thwarts motivation in various populations, and how to optimize wearable technology to support the development and maintenance of engagement in physical activity.

At Klein Buendel, she is currently collaborating with Dr. Robert Newton from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, Dr. Derek Griffith from Georgetown University, and Dr. David Buller from Klein Buendel on a research study to address physical activity maintenance in African American men with smartphone technology (MD014947; Dr. Robert Newton and Dr. Kayla Nuss, Multiple Principal Investigators).

Dr. Nuss is also a Co-Investigator on a collaborative team of highly-experienced cancer prevention and control investigators from the Four Corners Cancer Centers Collaborative (University of Arizona, University of Colorado, University of New Mexico, and University of Utah), Colorado State University, and Klein Buendel (CA268037; Dr. David Buller and Dr. Andrew Sussman from the University of New Mexico, Multiple Principal Investigators). This team is launching a 5-year research study focusing on decreasing cancer risk factors among emerging adults (ages 18-26) living in rural counties in the “Four Corners” states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah) using a social media campaign. Dr. Nuss will lend her expertise in the area of motivation for physical activity.