With Federal Grant, NYU Researchers Focus on Father/Son Communication to Reduce Teen Pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Disadvantaged Communities
Drs. Vincent Guilamo-Ramos and James Jaccard from the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work have received a five-year, $4 million Federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) to fine-tune and test their innovative approach to promoting safe sexual practices and enhancing linkage to sexual and reproductive health services by Latino and African American adolescents ages 15-19 in disadvantaged communities. Their approach is unique in focusing specifically on enhancing father-son communication about sexual health. The further development and formal evaluation of the intervention will be conducted in the Bronx, a county with marked adolescent sexual and reproductive health disparities and among the most economically disadvantaged counties in the United States.
Professors Vincent Guilamo-Ramos and James Jaccard, co-directors of the Center for Latino and Adolescent Family Health (CLAFH), have found paternal influence to be a critical, though neglected, opportunity to reduce teen pregnancies, HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and other sexual health risks. Under the CDC/OAH grant, adolescent boys and their fathers will be brought together to use the new intervention, “Fathers Raising Responsible Men” (FRRM), designed to impart sex-related communication skills between fathers and their sons and between adolescent boys and their sexual partners. In addition, FRRM will support adolescent males’ use of condoms correctly and consistently and encourages visits to a sexual and reproductive health clinic, where sons can receive STI screening and treatment and can be vaccinated for Human Papillomavirus, given the low use of critical HPV vaccines among boys.
The new project launches amid increased efforts at the Federal level to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color. In February 2014, President Barack Obama started My Brother’s Keeper with that goal uppermost in mind. In 2010, the Federal Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) was established to promote evidence-based programs to help states and localities address the health and wellness needs of adolescents. OAH has developed a registry of 37 programs, including Families Talking Together (FTT), a separate parent-based intervention developed by Drs. Guilamo-Ramos and Jaccard to prevent premature sexual debut among early adolescents, ages 10-14. FTT is geared to early adolescents of both sexes and is focused on delaying sexual debut.
In the first year of the grant, the research team will be partnering with community members to further refine and test-piloting the intervention.
The following four years of the project encompass a formal evaluation of the intervention to evaluate its impact, using focused modules or homework assignments that the father-son dyads will work through. These will include: Raising Adolescent Boys: Fathers Make a Big Difference; Teen Pregnancy and Adolescent Boys: A Guy’s Perspective; Understanding Manhood: The Role of Gender and Masculinity on Teen Sexual Behavior; Fathers and Sons Talk about Sex: Father Talk Matters!; Staying Involved: Fathers Effectively Monitoring Their Sons; and Building a Strong Father-son Relationship: The Importance of Shared Activities.
Eight hundred fathers and sons ages 15 to 19 will be involved in the evaluation study. The setting will be the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, where many fathers struggle with low incomes and inadequate economic resources to support their children, and look to contribute meaningfully in other ways to the health and stability of their children. Adolescents there face high concentrations of risk, and teen pregnancy, HIV, and sexually transmitted diseases are elevated compared to the national average. The FRRM intervention involves face-to-face sessions between an interventionist and the father of an adolescent male. In addition, the participating fathers will receive follow-up booster contacts to ensure that they have implemented the suggested activities, to sustain motivation, and to address obstacles that may have arisen.
The overall goal is to develop a science-proven tool that can be used nationally.
Between them, Professors Guilamo-Ramos and Jaccard have over 35 years of experience working on the issue of adolescent sexual risk behavior. To speak with them about the CDC-funded study, please contact the NYU press officer listed with this news release.
The Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) is a research center at the NYU Silver School of Social Work that investigates the role of the Latino family in shaping the development and well-being of Latino adolescents. CLAFH’s research addresses key issues that affect Latino families. Specifically, CLAFH seeks to: 1) foster the development, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based family interventions designed to prevent and/or reduce problem behaviors among Latino adolescents; 2) develop, evaluate, and disseminate family interventions for positive youth development approaches to Latino adolescent development and well-being; 3) examine issues of immigration related to the experiences of Latino families; and 4) promote the economic well-being of the Latino community. Strategically based in New York City, CLAFH addresses the needs of New York’s diverse Latino communities in both national and global contexts. The Center serves as a link between the scientific community, Latino health and social service providers, and the broader Latino community. Visit us at www.clafh.org.