Month: May 2014

CHIP 2013-2014 Seed Grant Winners: Obesity, eHealth/mHealth and Graduate Student Competitions

CHIP is delighted to announce and congratulate the winners of the 2013-2014 CHIP Seed Grant Competitions in Obesity Research, eHealth/mHealth Research, and Graduate Student Research.

The purpose of these competitions is to provide pilot and seed grant resources to investigators to stimulate new research in health behavior change at UConn of the type and quality likely to lead to additional external funding. Winners were selected through an NIH-style review process, and all qualifying applicants were provided with feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their proposals.

We wish to thank all applicants for their time, and we thank the review committee members for their contributions to this core CHIP program. Information on the 2014-2015 round of CHIP seed grants will be announced in the fall.

Awardees: CHIP Seed Grants for eHealth/mHealth Research

Awards of $15,000 were made to the following CHIP Faculty/Researcher Affiliates:

Hart Blanton, Department of Psychology
“Proof of Concept of Videogame Delivery of Graphic Health Warnings”

Deborah Cornman, CHIP
“Development of Mobile Phone Application to Address Recurrent Binge Eating”

Awardees: CHIP Seed Grants for Obesity Research

An award of $15,000 was made to the following CHIP Faculty/Research Affiliate:

Linda Pescatello, Department of Kinesiology
“A Firefighter Physical Test & Training Program for Cardiovascular Health”

Awardees: CHIP Seed Grants for Graduate Student Research

Awards of $1,500 were made to the following CHIP Graduate Student Affiliates:

Maninderjit Kaur, Department of Kinesiology
“Yoga intervention in children with autism spectrum disorders”
Advisor: Anjana Bhat

Hayley MacDonald, Department of Kinesiology
“Evaluating the effectiveness of the current exercise prescription recommendations for hypertension: A meta-analysis”
Advisors: Linda Pescatello and Blair Johnson

J. Luke Pryor, Department of Kinesiology
“Effectiveness of intermittent heat exposure to maintain heat acclimation”
Advisor: Carl Maresh

Roman Shrestha, Department of Community Medicine and Health Care
“Developing an evidence-based intervention targeting high-risk migrant workers”
Advisor: Michael Copenhaver

Emily Tuthill, School of Nursing
“Exclusive breastfeeding promotion among HIV-positive women: A theory-based approach”
Advisor: Jeffrey Fisher

Behavioral Intervention Results in Safer Sex Practices for Persons Living with HIV in South Africa

Options for HealthResearch conducted at 16 HIV clinical care sites in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa shows the pairing of a theory-based behavioral intervention with clinical care treatment for persons living with HIV resulted in more safer sex practices (measured by incidence of sex with condoms), compared to patients who did not receive the behavioral intervention. Increased safer sex practices among those living with HIV can help stem the spread of the HIV epidemic in South Africa, and can protect those living with HIV from other pathogens.

In the NIMH-funded Options for Health Randomized Trial, an international collaboration between researchers and clinicians from the University of Connecticut, University of Toronto, Nelson Mandela School of Medicine in Durban South Africa, Yale School of Medicine, and the University of Western Ontario, Canada, HIV+ patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) met with a trained lay counselor employed at the clinic at each clinical care visit. During this session, half of the almost 1900 patients received a behavioral intervention first shown to be effective in a similar context in the U.S. by Dr. Jeffrey Fisher of CHIP and his research team. The intervention was carefully adapted to the South African culture, risk dynamics, and clinical care setting. The other half of the patients received standard-of care counseling. The behavioral intervention was based on the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills (IMB) model published by Fisher and Fisher (1992) which assumes that when individuals have sufficient safer sex information, motivation, and behavioral skills, they will adopt and maintain safer sex behavior.

The patients given the IMB model-based behavioral intervention reported significantly fewer incidents of unprotected sex in the previous four weeks at six month, twelve month, and eighteen month assessment interviews than those exposed to the standard of care.

Dr. Jeffrey Fisher, Distinguished Professor and founding Director of UConn’s Center for Health, Intervention, Prevention (CHIP) said the study demonstrated that “linking an effective HIV transmission prevention intervention to the clinical care context can reach large numbers of people living with HIV at low cost. Scaling it up as the standard-of-care in South African clinical care settings could have a significant impact on the HIV epidemic in that country.” Further, “ this type of behavioral intervention can be an important adjunct to ‘treatment as prevention’ since significant numbers of individuals living with HIV do not adhere to ART, have detectable viral load, and practice risky sex,” Fisher said. The South African Options for Health Randomized Trial was funded by a $6.3 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to the University of Connecticut. Fisher’s collaborators included Deborah Cornman, Paul Shuper, Sarah Christie, Sandy Pilay, Susan MacDonald, Ntombenhle Ngcobo, Rivet Amico, Umesh Laloo, Gerald Friedland, William Fisher, and the South African Options Team.

By Samantha Libby

Intervention Resources: More information about the South Africa Options intervention can be found at: