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Newly Funded Research in September 2023!

Date Posted: Monday, September 25, 2023

iSPARC is pleased to announce that in September 2023 three of our researchers received funding for new projects. Please join us in congratulating Melissa Anderson, Lourah Kelly, and Kathryn Sabella on these important research studies. Read below to learn more about each project. 

white woman with short dark curly hair smilingMelissa Anderson, Ph.D., and the Deaf Yes! Team have been awarded the 5-year project “Evaluating Signs of Safety: A Deaf-Accessible Therapy Toolkit for AUD and Trauma” by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

The U.S. Deaf community – a group of more than 500,000 Americans who communicate using American Sign Language (ASL) – experiences nearly triple the rate of lifetime problem drinking and twice the rate of trauma exposure compared to the general population. Although there are several treatments for alcohol use disorder (AUD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in hearing populations, none have been developed for or tested with Deaf clients. To address these barriers, over the past 8 years, the team developed Signs of Safety, a Deaf-accessible therapy toolkit for treating AUD and PTSD. Related, read the Signs of Safety tip sheet.

This project is a nationwide, virtual clinical trial to compare (1) Signs of Safety with (2) treatment as usual and (3) a no-treatment control, to collect data on clinical outcomes, and to explore potential mediators and moderators of outcome. This R01 study will potentially validate the first-ever evidence-based therapy for Deaf people, as well as provide future behavioral health researchers with a vital roadmap for conducting community-engaged clinical trials with Deaf people.

white woman with brown hair smilingLourah Kelly, Ph.D., was awarded a 3-year project entitled “Development and Evaluation of an Avatar Guided Mobile Health for Emerging Adults” by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). This newly funded R00 is part of a phased K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award which supports Dr. Kelly’s transition from postdoctoral fellow to independent research scientist, through training, mentorship, and a pilot research project.

Emerging adults have higher rates of binge drinking, thoughts of suicide, and suicide attempts than any other age group, but very low use of substance use treatment. The R00 phase of this project pilots, refines and evaluates a novel mobile health intervention guided by an avatar for emerging adults and who binge drink and experience thoughts of suicide.

The intervention is implemented within the emergency department as a key point of healthcare service entry. Because emerging adults prefer mobile health and self-guided interventions and such technology is widely accessible, the proposed mobile health intervention could offer significant public health benefit in reducing alcohol use problems and suicidal thoughts in emerging adults.

headshots of Sabella and Thomas with Temple U logoKathryn Sabella, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Thomas, Ph.D., Temple University, are co-directors of a new “Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Living and Participation among Transition Age Youth with Serious Mental Health Conditions from Disadvantaged, Vulnerable, and Marginalized Backgrounds” co-funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This 5-year project will serve as a national leader in state-of-the-art research and knowledge translation activities to significantly advance community living and participation outcomes among transition-age youth (TAY) with serious mental health conditions from disadvantaged, vulnerable, and marginalized backgrounds.

The Center’s five research studies and knowledge translation activities will: 1) generate new knowledge regarding developmentally appropriate interventions to promote participation; 2) generate new knowledge about system and policy issues affecting community living and participation; and 3) provide training, dissemination, and technical assistance to TAY and other key stakeholders.