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¡Caminemos Juntas!: A Smartphone App for Latinas to Connect with Walking Partners

¡Caminemos Juntas!: A Smartphone App for Latinas to Connect with Walking Partners

Dr. Valerie Myers, Klein Buendel (KB) Senior Scientist, is the Principal Investigator leading a new research project aimed at helping Latinas combat barriers to physical activity using smartphone technology and social networks.

Hispanic women are a growing and influential segment of the population, yet health disparities for Latinas remain high. Latinas are more likely than their non-Hispanic White counterparts to be overweight, diagnosed with diabetes, and physically inactive. Regular physical activity promotes physical and emotional well-being, such as lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, weight management, and improved quality of life, yet physical activity interventions for Latinas remain limited.

Community-focused walking interventions produce improvements in physical activity and are well-received by Latinas when they are socioculturally sensitive. New technology has the ability to provide Latinas with innovative ways to connect socially and increase PA. Location-based services (LBS) are a popular technology that uses geographical positioning to allow individuals to use their smartphones to connect to their surrounding environment.

¡Caminemos Juntas! is a physical activity walking app that uses location-based services to connect Latinas within nearby neighborhoods as a way to provide social support for increased walking behavior. A prototype of the ¡Caminemos Juntas! app was programmed for both iOS and Android smartphones in a previous Phase I project. Multi-method formative research was conducted to guide app design and content prior to conducting field usability testing. To guide prototype development, a national sample of Latinas (n=98; mean age 32.7 +/- 7.8 years; 45% primary Spanish speaking; 28.6% with annual income < $15,000) were surveyed to better understand their preferences, usage, needs, and obstacles of current apps in relation to health and physical activity. Latinas’ current physical activity behaviors and smartphone use, opinions on health-related apps using LBS, how often they access social networking sites on their mobile phone, and their likelihood of using a social networking app to connect to others with intentions to be physically active were also examined.

Phase I results revealed that 22.5% never or rarely exercised, 73.5% accessed social networking sites daily with an average of 8 times a day, and 43.9% used LBS every day. Ease of use (82%), informationally accurate (79.2%), and reliability (84.7%) were app features rated as highly important. Over 63% reported high likelihood of using a social networking app to connect to others with the intentions of being physically active, and 67.4% reported that this type of app would be very helpful. Focus groups showed that the app was appealing, also.

In the new Phase II project, the ¡Caminemos Juntas! app will be fully developed and evaluated in a randomized control trial with Latinas aged 18-45 in San Jose, CA and Denver, CO. Changes in physical activity, social support for exercise, and quality of life will be evaluated. New features to be explored include Fitbit® device integration, mapping of walks, and social media integration. The LBS features of the app will allow Latinas to determine a safe place to meet for a walk, connect with other users nearby, and be notified if there was an available walk in the user’s vicinity.

The research is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (MD009652) at the National Institutes of Health through the Small Business Innovation Research Program. Dr. Myers’ collaborators include Dr. Abby King from Stanford University, and Dr. Gary Cutter from Pythagorus, Inc. in Alabama.

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Victoria Sánchez

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Victoria Sánchez

Dr. Victoria Sánchez is an Associate Professor in the College of Population Health at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque.  She earned her MPH at the University of California at Berkeley and her Doctorate in Public Health (DrPH) in Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She directs the MPH Community Health Concentration track at UNM and teaches social and behavioral sciences courses for the UNM College of Public Health.

Dr. Sánchez has a long-standing commitment to participatory planning and evaluation processes with communities and public health organizations. Over the last thirty years, she has integrated her expertise in public health practice and participatory and multidisciplinary research methodologies to plan and implement joint solutions for reducing health and social disparities in Latino and other vulnerable communities. As a member of multidisciplinary teams, she has applied social and cultural theories and models in the development, tailoring, testing, and evaluation of interventions to improve the health of Latinos/Hispanics in New Mexico, Texas, and California.

Currently, Dr. Sánchez is working with Klein Buendel as a collaborating scientist with Dr. Gill Woodall and Dr. David Buller on WayToServe Español: A Culturally-Appropriate Online Responsible Beverage Service Training for Spanish-Speaking Servers (R44MD010405; Dr. Gill Woodall, Principal Investigator). This research project is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Sánchez collaborates on the creation and evaluation of culturally-appropriate content and the translation of the English WayToServe® online training program to Spanish. She helps ensure that the translation is compatible with the values and needs of servers in Spanish language-dominant bars and restaurants. The randomized control trial is being conducted at Spanish-dominant businesses in the Southwestern region of the United States.

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BeVaccinated Web App Usability Testing

BeVaccinated Web App Usability Testing

Dr. W. Gill Woodall from Klein Buendel and the University of New Mexico presented findings from the BeVaccinated project at the 68th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in Prague, Czech Republic, May 24-28, 2018. The project tested the usability of a prototype web app for improving adolescent vaccination uptake.

While vaccination rates for young children in the U.S. currently meet recommended standards, the CDC reports adolescent vaccines uptake (Gardasil 9 for HPV, MCV4 for meningococcal infection, Tdap for Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis protection, and Varicella vaccine for Chickenpox protection) to be less than optimal. In the case of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, rates are seriously below desired uptake levels. Despite established safety and effectiveness information about these vaccinations, and a wide variety of medical organizations recommending them, parents continue to have concerns about them, particularly the HPV vaccine.

For health communication researchers focused on Diffusion of Innovations, this is a classic difficulty of lack of effective messaging to prompt the uptake of an innovation by closing a knowledge gap among parents, in this case, on effective adolescent vaccines. The CDC and the Presidents Cancer Panel call for the development of effective and accessible messaging to improve vaccine decision-making as well as uptake. Because parents drive the decision to, and action for, vaccine uptake, messaging should be focused on them, but not exclusively, as there are benefits from parents and adolescents communicating about vaccines specifically and health issues generally. Approaching the vaccines as a recommended adolescent vaccine panel instead of each vaccine singularly may provide adoption benefit, as a vaccine panel approach builds the normative expectation for getting all adolescent vaccines as a group.

To address this vaccine uptake deficit, a web-browser application prototype, BeVaccinated, was developed to test reactions to and feasibility of delivering adolescent vaccine information via a smartphone. The majority of adults of parenting age own smartphones and use them to access online information, especially minority adults, and use mobile apps for information acquisition and decision support, making them a potentially efficacious channel for delivering vaccine information and tools. The prototype app was developed via formative research with focus group participants and guided by an Expert Advisory Board (EAB) comprised of vaccination experts and clinicians. Usability testing was conducted iteratively with nine parent and teen pairs in New Mexico and seven parent and teen pairs in Colorado. Pairs were comprised of one teen, ages 13-17, and their accompanying parent or guardian.

Usability testing was conducted individually with the parent and teen by trained research staff. Parents and teens reported that the prototype app was easy to use. Users reported that they could learn to use it quickly and that they were confident using it. With feasibility established, the full version of the app will be designed to improve dissemination of vaccine information, improve parent/teen communication around health behavior choices, and ultimately, improve the uptake of vaccinations.

This research was funded by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R41HD082901; Dr. W. Gill Woodall, Principal Investigator). Collaborators included Julia Berteletti from KB; Dr. Randall Starling, Dr. Alberta Kong, and Dr. Lance Chilton from the University of New Mexico; Dr. Greg Zimet from Indiana University; and Dr. Nathan Stupiansky from the University of Arizona.

Designing a Web App to Promote Teen Vaccination Uptake

Designing a Web App to Promote Teen Vaccination Uptake

Ms. Julia Berteletti, KB Research Program Manager, is presenting a poster on formative research from the BeVaccinated Project at the 39th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, April 11-14, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

While vaccination rates for young children in the United States currently meet recommended standards, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports adolescent vaccines uptake to be less than optimal, and in the case of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, seriously below desired uptake levels. To address this deficit, a web-browser application prototype, BeVaccinated, was developed to test reactions to and feasibility of delivering adolescent vaccine information via smartphone. The BeVaccinated app prototype was developed from formative research with 26 focus group participants and guided by an Expert Advisory Board comprised of vaccination experts and clinicians.

Usability testing on one module, about deciding to vaccinate, was conducted iteratively with nine parent and teen pairs in New Mexico and seven parent and teen pairs in Colorado. Pairs were comprised of one teen (ages 13-17) and their accompanying parent or guardian. Usability testing was conducted individually with the parent and teen by trained research staff. During the testing, participants used the app prototype, answering questions as prompted. At the conclusion of testing, participants completed the 10-item Bangor System Usability Scale (SUS). Parents and teens rated the app as very easy to use. SUS data also indicated that participants could quickly learn to use the app and that they would be confident using it.

A Specifications Document outlines the planned design of the full-scale app based on testing results. Findings included in the specifications document are: 1) provide tailored learning experiences to teens (i.e., game-based) and parents (i.e., didactic) within the same app; 2) integrate individualized information (e.g., clinic preferences); and 3) provide a vaccination record tracking feature. The planned app could improve dissemination of vaccine information, enhance parent/teen communication around health behavior choices, and ultimately, improve the uptake of vaccinations.

This research was funded by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R41HD082901; Dr. Gill Woodall, KB Senior Scientist, PI) Research collaborators included Dr. Randall Starling and Dr. Lance Chilton from the University of New Mexico, Dr. Gregory Zimet from Indiana University, Dr. Nathan Stupiansky from the University of Arizona, and Sophia Strickfaden from KB.

KB Scientist Shares Career Development Guidance in SBM Panel Discussions

KB Scientist Shares Career Development Guidance in SBM Panel Discussions

Dr. Valerie Myers, KB Senior Scientist and SBM Fellow, is a co-presenter for three Panel Discussions related to training and career development at the 39th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, April 11-14, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.


Perspectives on Effective Digital Health Training in Behavioral Medicine

To be a successful digital health researcher, most individuals find that they need to complete a set of training experiences not well encapsulated by a single degree program. Behavioral medicine scientists and practitioners that utilize digital health must take an entrepreneurial approach to advocating for receiving adequate training to be prepared for the challenges of this field. The call for cross-disciplinary digital health researchers necessitates that both trainees and mentors be flexible and creative with training opportunities. To discuss methods and philosophies for training the next generation of digital health researchers. The Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Digital Health Council has assembled a panel of digital health experts spanning academia and industry with varying educational backgrounds. The panel will include: (1) a senior-level academic with interests in mHealth and adolescent health; (2) a mid-career researcher from an academic medical center who receives NIH-funding and engages in formal recurrent consultation with numerous industry partners; (3) an early career electrical engineer with an interest in translational medicine and experience with research career development awards; and (4) a senior scientist at a small health communication and development firm who conducts research on behaviorally-based technological approaches to behavior change. Attendees will leave with practical advice for obtaining adequate digital health training in the post-graduate, postdoctoral, and established career phases.

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KB to Co-Host International UV Conference May 1-4, 2018

KB to Co-Host International UV Conference May 1-4, 2018

Klein Buendel is a proud North American organizer and host of the 4th International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention being held May 1-4, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. The 2018 conference is being organized by a joint planning committee of skin cancer prevention experts in Canada and the United States from Ryerson University in Toronto, the Canadian Dermatology Association, and Klein Buendel.

The UV and Skin Cancer Prevention conferences provide an innovative scientific program that showcases the work of the international skin cancer prevention community. The previous conferences have been held in Copenhagen, Denmark (2011), Berlin, Germany (2013), and Melbourne, Australia (2015) and have attracted international experts in skin cancer prevention, UV radiation science, dermatology, allied behavioral and clinical disciplines and members of the environmental planning and design communities who are working in the field of UV and skin cancer prevention. The conferences have been organized by local planning committees dedicated to advancing skin cancer prevention.

The Toronto conference will feature multiple concurrent sessions and poster sessions addressing primary and secondary prevention, school settings, worksites, shade design, sun safety campaigns, indoor tanning trends, sunscreen, and more.

Special plenary sessions will address:

  • New Research Methods for Skin Cancer Prevention
  • Issues in Dissemination of Skin Cancer Prevention Interventions
  • Second Generation Audiences for Skin Cancer Prevention
  • Environmental Issues in Skin Cancer Prevention
  • Screening for Skin Cancer Prevention

Four additional workshops will be held on May 1st:

  • Sun Safety and Skin Health in Youth
  • Young Adulthood Physical Activity
  • Skin Smart Campus
  • Online, Mobile, and Social Media Interventions

To see the program-at-a-glance, speakers, and registration information, visit…

4th International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention

 

KB’S 2017 Research and Outreach Accomplishments and Other Highlights

KB’S 2017 Research and Outreach Accomplishments and Other Highlights

The year 2017 flew by, but we have taken time to reflect on what we have done at Klein Buendel (KB) to achieve our primary goal of creating and evaluating effective programs and products for health promotion and disease prevention. We are thankful for the research, education, and outreach opportunities that we have participated in, and we are looking forward to continuing our efforts in 2018. Details of some of our 2017 accomplishments and publications are listed below. The names of KB investigators and staff are bolded.

SUMMARY OF KLEIN BUENDEL’S 2017 RESEARCH AND OUTREACH ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • In June, KB celebrated its 15th anniversary as a small woman-owned business.
  • In August, one of our Senior Scientists, Valerie Myers, was made a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.
  • We were awarded 3 new prime grants and 1 subcontract.
  • We completed 7 prime and subcontract research projects.
  • KB scientists and staff presented research findings at 6 national and international conferences (19 posters or presentations).
  • KB scientists, collaborators, and staff published 12 papers of research findings in peer-reviewed journals.

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Welcome to the new KB Collaboratory!

Welcome to the new KB Collaboratory!

Welcome to the new KB Collaboratory – a fresh new edition of Klein Buendel’s blog. The KB Collaboratory complements our newly-designed website and disseminates timely information about our behavioral health research and collaborations.

Because we’re a “small bunch,” KB’s behavioral scientists, research staff, and developers collaborate with researchers, clinicians, and creatives from companies, universities, research institutes, and cancer centers around the world to design programs and products to prevent chronic disease. Along with our research publications, conference presentations, website, and social media, this blog is a dynamic outlet for sharing the health communication, education, and technology research that we do in collaboration with our distinguished research, business, and creative partners.

Watch for articles and features in the KB Collaboratory on our:

  • Research collaborators
  • Abstracts and conference presentations
  • Publications
  • New research projects
  • Technology and products
  • Outreach and education
  • News and announcements

If you’d like to get in touch, please email Mary Buller at mbuller@kleinbuendel.com.