Racial and ethnic minority young adults in the U.S. with serious mental illness (SMI) face an increased risk of having their treatment end prematurely. To help address this problem, the National Institute of Mental Health has awarded Assistant Professor Kiara Moore with a four-year grant of nearly $740,000. It will enable her to adapt and test a mental health services engagement program to retain that underserved population in treatment.
As the first K23 Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award received by an NYU Silver faculty member, the grant also provides support for training and mentorship to advance Dr. Moore’s goal of becoming an independent investigator focused on improving mental health services for underserved youth during the transition to adulthood.
Lower treatment engagement among racial and ethnic minority young adults with SMI is often driven by a lack of services that take into account cultural factors and their unique developmental needs, said Dr. Moore. “Despite the significant public health impact of untreated mental illness, there are no evidence-based treatment engagement interventions explicitly designed to be culturally-responsive to this population.”
Under the grant, Dr. Moore will partner with racial and ethnic minority young adults with SMI and community mental health providers to adapt a brief, evidence-based young adult treatment engagement intervention to make it more relevant and responsive to the young people’s needs. She will then conduct a pilot study to evaluate the adapted intervention to determine its viability, as well as preliminary impact on treatment engagement. That study, to be conducted at an urban, publicly-funded, adult psychiatric rehabilitation program, will enroll 80 racial and ethnic minority young adults with SMI, who will be assigned to one of eight conditions to test the new components in an efficient manner. In-depth interviews will be administered after the intervention to clarify the findings and place them in context.
A key facet of the National Institutes of Health’s K23 award program is its support for an intensive, mentored research career development experience. Dr. Moore’s mentors on the grant are NYU Silver Professors Michelle Munson and Marya Gwadz, Associate Professor Doris Chang, and NYU Global Public Health Professor Linda Collins. With their guidance, Dr. Moore will also pursue training in developing empirically-driven engagement interventions for older adolescents and young adults; adapting interventions to be culturally relevant to underserved, minoritized populations; using the Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST) framework for developing social/behavioral interventions; and grant writing.
Dr. Moore anticipates the pilot study will lay the groundwork for her to pursue a large-scale trial of the adapted intervention. “This Career Development Award will support me in becoming a clinician researcher with the skills to adapt and optimize evidence-based interventions that reduce mental health disparities among minoritized adolescents and young adults,” said Dr. Moore. “This will help address serious mental health inequities faced by minoritized young people living with mental illness.”