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Prevention Research Center, Division of Prevention & Population Sciences, UNM Department of Pediatrics

MSC11 6145
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
2703 Frontier Ave NE
Research Incubator Building (RIB) Suite 120

Phone: (505) 272-4462
Fax: (505) 272-3955

Current Work

This page provides an overview of all of the PRC currently funded projects. The Center is home to more than twenty-five different projects that focus on prevention with the goal of improving health outcomes for individuals and communities. Feel free to contact the corresponding project coordinators to learn more about each project. Also make sure to visit the Educational Materials and Publications & Reports sections of the website to explore materials and documents that these projects produced. 

PRC Core Research Project: VIVA II

Project Director: Sally M. Davis, PhD
Project Contact: Alejandro Ortega, BS
Website: http://stepintocuba.org/ 

The Village Interventions and Venues for Action (VIVA II) project is designed to study the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based recommendations for increasing physical activity, increasing drinking water consumption, and increasing use of telephone and web-based tobacco cessation programs. As part of this effort, the UNM PRC will provide technical assistance, education, training, assessment and evaluation to the Step Into Cuba project, in Cuba, NM, as well as to other New Mexico communities through VIVA Connects – a web-based learning platform. The overall goal of the project is to address the gap between research and practice. VIVA II builds on VIVA – Step Into Cuba, a five-year project studying the dissemination and implementation of recommendations for increasing physical activity. The original study focused on adapting the recommended strategies for the rural community of Cuba, NM. The UNM PRC, along with the New Mexico Department of Health and the UNM HSC Communications and Marketing Department, produced a series of videos on the Step Into Cuba program, in an effort to help other New Mexico communities launch similar efforts.

Principal Investigator: Sally M. Davis, PhD
Start and End Dates: October 2014 – September 2019
Sources of Funding: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

ACTION PAC: Adolescents Committed to Improvement of Nutrition & Physical Activity

Project Director: Alberta Kong, MD, MPH
Project Contact: Amanda Harris, BS
 

ACTION PAC is a 5 year project to test 2 methods of body mass index (BMI) screening and referral/treatment- one similar to what is currently being done by some states which have adopted school-based BMI screening policy and the other is one that Dr. Kong and her team developed using community-based participatory research principles (http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/978482).  This project is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  

We are working with 8 high schools that have school-based health centers (SBHC) to screen BMI in 9th and 10th grade students who are interested in participating and meet eligibility criteria and follow them annually for 2 years (i.e., 9th grade students followed through 11th grade and 10th grade students followed through 12th grade).  Schools have been randomized (i.e., like flipping a coin) to receive either our intervention or the one that is similar to what is currently being done in other states that have adopted school-based BMI policy.  Participating students receive anthropometric screening, blood pressure check, and dietary and physical activity assessments.  Students identified with a BMI ≥ 85th percentile (i.e., considered at higher risk for chronic diseases) also receive screening for fasting blood work (e.g., glucose, hemoglobin A1c, lipids). 

Principal Investigator: Alberta Kong, MD, MPH
Start and End Dates: August 2013 – July 2018
Sources of Funding: National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Acoma-Canoncito/To'Hajiilee-Laguna (ACL) Teen Centers

Project Director: Sally M. Davis, PhD

The ACL Teen Centers project includes:

  • School-Based Primary Care Services
  • Behavioral Health Services
  • Teen Outreach Program (TOP)
  • Promoting Healthy Lives (United Way)


Acoma-Cañoncito/To'Hajiilee-Laguna (ACL) Teen Centers were founded in 1983 as a collaborative effort initiated by the New Mexico communities of Acoma, To'Hajiilee and Laguna to address their concerns about adolescent suicides, alcohol-related accidents, and adolescent pregnancy. They developed a model, in partnership with the University of New Mexico, to address these issues through an interconnected holistic set of school-based programs with both clinical services and prevention projects. The ACL Teen Centers consist of three school-based health centers, one at To’Hajiilee Community School, one at Laguna-Acoma Junior/Senior High School, and one at Laguna Middle School. 

The Teen Centers clinical program provides year-round, cultural- and age-sensitive medical and behavioral health services to adolescents, including physical examinations, sports physicals, well visits, reproductive health, family planning, sick visits and referrals, substance abuse services, crisis intervention, suicide prevention, and mental health counseling. The To’Hajiilee Teen Center serves youth at To’Hajiilee Community School (grades 6-12). The Laguna-Acoma Teen Center serves pueblo youth, as well as a small number of Hispanic youth who attend Laguna-Acoma Junior/Senior High School (grades 7-12) and students who attend Sky City Community School. 

Each center works closely with community organizations, tribal leaders, and schools to meet the physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs of their adolescents. The School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) plays a significant role with input about needs and programmatic guidance. Several agencies in each community collaborate with the Teen Centers as consultants, providers or subcontractors in rendering a continuum of behavioral health and primary care services—from primary prevention, to early identification and referral, to treatment--for students.

In each community, the Teen Center is the primary agency that addresses adolescent prevention issues, by encouraging and supporting healthful adolescent behavior and lifestyles. Training needs have been identified and workshops conducted to train teachers, community providers and parents about early identification of adolescent behavioral health issues, primary prevention, violence prevention, suicide prevention and support group development, and other prevention issues. Among the many other programs the Teen Centers have offered are the Botvin Life Skills classes to youth in grades 4-9, and the DARE To Be You parenting curriculum. The Teen Centers have worked with the Laguna Services Center and To’Hajiilee Behavioral Health System, which provide substance abuse prevention and counseling services to adolescents, to co-sponsor treatment camps for youth.

Principal Investigator: Sally M. Davis, PhD
Start and End Dates: 1983 –
Sources of Funding: Various State, Federal and Private Sources

CHILE Plus

Project Director: Patricia C. Keane, MS, RD
Project Contact: Francesca Tobias, MCRP
Project Website: http://prc.unm.edu/chile-plus

The Child Health Initiative for Lifelong Eating and Exercise (CHILE) Plus program is the dissemination of the original CHILE intervention. CHILE Plus continues as an evidence-based, multidisciplinary nutrition education and obesity prevention program among American Indian and Hispanic children enrolled in Head Start programs across rural New Mexico. CHILE Plus is behaviorally-focused and is based on the socioecological model 
CHILE Plus is funded by the New Mexico Human Services Department as a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) project. The purpose of SNAP-Ed is to improve the likelihood that SNAP-eligible individuals and families will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA food guidance.

The aims of CHILE Plus are that Head Start children and their families will:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables; choose whole grains and low-fat dairy products; and drink more water
  • Eat fewer high-fat foods and drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Learn how to serve and choose foods in age-appropriate portion sizes
  • Spend at least 30 minutes every day engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
  • Spend no more than two hours per day being sedentary

CHILE Plus intervention includes the following:

  • CHILE Nutrition and Physical Activity classroom curriculum for Head Start children. 
  • Provides repeated opportunities to try new foods and to increase physical activity throughout the school day
  • CHILE Plus professional development delivered to Head Start teachers, food service staff, coordinators 
  • and administrators. Content includes healthy eating, active living, and family engagement strategies
  • CHILE Plus Family Engagement Activities, including CHILE Plus messaging at home visits, in parent meetings, and through CHILE Plus Family Event activities. Activities are conducted by both CHILE Plus staff and Head Start staff
  • Grocery store program to promote healthier food and beverage options in select rural communities
  • Health Care and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program providers

Pdf Materials for the Chile Nutrition and Physical Activity Curriculum and Family Education Materials

Principal Investigator: Patricia C. Keane, MS, RD  
Start Date: November 17, 2011 –
Source of Funding: New Mexico Human Services Department

This project is funded through the USDA, and is subject to The USDA Nondiscrimination Statement. (English) (Spanish)

Eat Smart to Play Hard

Project Director: Glenda Canaca, MD
Project Contact: Jennifer Johnston
Project Website: http://prc.unm.edu/eatsmart-playhard

The purpose of the SNAP-Ed New Mexico Social Marketing project is to develop, implement, and evaluate a culturally and linguistically appropriate nutrition education social marketing campaign for Spanish and English speaking a) families of preschoolers; b) families of elementary school age children; and, c) children between the ages of 8 and 10 years old.

Project goals include:

  • Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables by families: parents and other caregivers will
    offer more fruits and vegetables to their children, will make more fruits and vegetables available
    in the home, and will serve as role models for their children.
  • Increasing consumption of low-fat and fat-free milk products by children and their families by
    substituting higher fat milk products with lower fat varieties.
  • Increasing the percentage of whole grains consumed by families by educating them on how to 
    read labels and encouraging them to choose from the variety of whole grains available.

Principal Investigator: Glenda Canaca, MD
Start Date: January 2010 –
Sources of Funding: New Mexico Human Services Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed)

This project is funded through the USDA, and is subject to The USDA Nondiscrimination Statement. (English) (Spanish)

Evaluating Benefit Acceptance Policies in New Mexico Farmers' Markets

Project Director: Patricia Keane, MS, RD

Federal nutrition assistance program benefits, such as SNAP, WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market vouchers allow for purchase of fresh produce at farmers' markets, but the administrative responsibilities on markets can be challenging, particularly in small, rural communities. This project will evaluate the barriers and facilitators faced by NM farmers' markets in accepting these benefits and disseminate findings at the community, state and federal level. We will develop recommendations for policy and technical assistance so that NM farmers' markets may fully realize the economic development potential of participating in these programs, and to ensure low-income families’ continued access to fresh fruits and vegetables at NM farmers' markets.

Principal Investigator: Patricia Keane, MS, RD
Start and End Dates: January 2014  November 2015
Sources of Funding: Con Alma Health Foundation

Exemplary Sexual Health Education Evaluation

Project Director: Linda J. Peñaloza, PhD

The NM Public Education Department (PED) is working on a 5-year program to improve sexual health education programs in priority pilot schools and school districts across the state. This contract with the PED is for conducting detailed evaluation of these efforts and providing technical assistance to schools and school districts, reporting and accountability to the CDC. 

Principal Investigator: Linda J. Peñaloza, PhD
Start and End Dates: September 1, 2013  
Source of Funding: New Mexico Public Education Department, Coordinated School Health & Wellness Bureau

NM NOPREN: NOPREN in Early Childcare Serving Southwest American Indian and Hispanic Populations

Project Co-Directors: Sally Davis, PhD and Patty Keane, MS, RD, LD
Project Contact: Patty Keane
, MS, RD, LD

  

The Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN) is a thematic network of the Prevention Research Centers Program. The UNM PRC is funded as a NOPREN Collaborating Center. NOPREN conducts nutrition- and obesity-related policy research and evaluation related to the effectiveness of policies that improve access to affordable, healthy foods and beverages in a variety of settings, including communities, workplaces, healthcare facilities, childcare institutions, and schools. 

The objectives of NM NOPREN are to build the evidence for effective healthier food and beverage policies in early care and education settings serving predominantly Hispanic and American Indian populations. This complements the broader research efforts of the UNM PRC and builds from our extensive experience in prevention of obesity and chronic disease, child nutrition, and policy research and evaluation. Specifically, NM NOPREN identifies food and beverage policies that support the prevention of obesity in Head Start settings, the factors (facilitators) needed to support them, and their level of implementation. NM NOPREN examines the barriers that prevent food and beverage policy adoption, impede their transfer to other geographies or settings, or inhibit their application to larger populations.

The Specific Aims of NM NOPREN as a Collaborating Center are:

  • To serve as a collaborating center of the NOPREN, developing leadership in policy research and evaluation within the national network and within our state partner network of public health practitioners
  • To contribute to the NOPREN Early Care and Education (ECE) working group and add to the evidence base for effective policy and environmental approaches in ECE settings
  • To serve as a resource and to provide technical assistance to Head Start centers, and state and community partners related to nutrition and obesity prevention policy development and evaluation in the ECE setting 

The Specific Aims of the NM NOPREN pilot project are:

  • To conduct a policy scan of food and beverage policies in New Mexico childcare programs
  • To evaluate how policy existence and implementation differ based on center characteristics
  • To evaluate the process of food and beverage policy implementation
  • To identify barriers and facilitators to the successful implementation of food and beverage policies

Co-Principal Investigators: Sally Davis, PhD and Patricia Keane, MS, RD
Start and End Dates: October 2014  September 2019
Sources of Funding: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 

PRC Sexual Violence Prevention Technical Assistance Project

Project Director: Theresa H. Cruz, PhD 
Project Contact: Leona Woelk, MA

The UNM PRC works collaboratively with the NM Department of Health (DOH) Office of Injury Prevention and the NM Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc. (the Coalition) to provide technical assistance to prevent sexual violence in New Mexico. Because SV is supported by community and societal norms that implicitly or explicitly condone it, the most effective way to prevent sexual violence is with initiatives with a socioecological focus. Programs should comprehensively address violence at multiple levels, focus on community engagement, build on proven practices that help to prevent violence, and focus on community health and improving underlying social conditions. The project includes development of a 5-year strategic plan for the primary prevention of sexual violence using a 3-tiered approach including and advisory group, subject matter experts, and local community participation through focus groups. Goals include changing social norms, creating safer environments, and increasing use of the public health approach to address sexual violence.

Principal Investigator: Theresa H. Cruz, PhD
Start date July 1, 2012 –
Source of funding: NM Department of Health

REACH Healthy Here Evaluation

Project Director: Theresa H. Cruz, PhD 
Project Contact: Courtney FitzGerald, MSSW, LMSW

Healthy Here is a community-driven initiative dedicated to reducing chronic disease in Hispanic/Latino and Native American populations within the South Valley and International District of Bernalillo County, NM. Specifically, it aims to increase 1) access to healthy food; 2) opportunities to be physically active; 3) and physician referrals of patients to chronic disease self-management programs. A large and diverse group of community partners are participating in a variety of strategies to address these aims. For example, Healthy Here includes a mobile market which sells locally grown produce at a reduced price in the focus communities. The initiative also includes developing and promoting safe walking routes in order to increase access to places to be physically active. The third major component focuses on implementation of a referral system to increase provider referrals of patients to community-based programs that can assist patients with managing chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes, obesity) and risk factors (e.g., hypertension, high cholesterol). 

The role of the UNM PRC is to work collaboratively with the Healthy Here community partners to evaluate these components of the initiative. The purpose of the evaluation is to measure implementation of community-level and systems-level outcomes. The evaluation will measure increased access to safe places for physical activity, and actual use of the mobile market and the referral system. The evaluation will aid in the development of recommendations for program improvements, and ensure continued access to healthy, affordable food, safe places to be physically active, and healthcare providers’ utilization of referrals to chronic disease self-management programs. 

This partnership is led by Presbyterian Healthcare Services and the Bernalillo County Community Health Council. For additional information about Healthy Here, please visit http://www.bchealthcouncil.org/Healthy-Here.

Principal Investigator: Theresa H. Cruz, PhD
Start date: March 2015 –
Source of funding: Presbyterian Healthcare Services through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) Award

School Health Education Profiles

Project Director: Linda J. Peñaloza, PhD

This project involves conducting a survey of a sample of New Mexico public schools, serving grades 6-12. Survey respondents will be school principals and the lead health educator at each sampled school. Survey topics include the types of curricula provided, services and facilities available on site, policies and professional development for staff and administration at the schools related to student health, safety and well-being. The surveys will be conducted on-line in the second school semester, January – March 2016. 

Principal Investigator: Linda J. Peñaloza, PhD
Start and End Dates: August 1, 2015  
Source of Funding: New Mexico Public Education Department, Coordinated School Health & Wellness Bureau

SNAP-Ed Evaluation

Project Director: Theresa H. Cruz, PhD 
Project Contact: Emily Lilo, MPH

The purpose of the SNAP-Ed Evaluation project is to evaluate the ongoing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs’ Educational (SNAP-Ed) Programming in New Mexico. SNAP-Ed funding provides direct education of SNAP eligible populations regarding how to eat healthily on a budget, as well as policy, system and environmental changes that promote healthy eating and increased physical activity. Currently seven projects are funded including CHILE Plus, Cooking with Kids, Kids Cook!, Las Cruces Public Schools, NMSU, SNAP-Ed New Mexico Social Marketing project, and the Institute of American Indian Arts. The UNM PRC has been tasked with evaluating these programs. Evaluation efforts began with a pilot evaluation assessment conducted in 2014 and baseline and follow-up survey data collected during the 2014-2015 academic year. These assessments have focused primarily on fruit and vegetable consumption, foods available in the home environment, and the effect of adding social marketing to the regular programming. In the future, the UNM PRC will collaborate with the Human Services Division and the NM Department of Health to evaluate policy, systems and environmental changes and to measure networks of organizations collectively involved in the initiative at the community level. 

Principal Investigator: Theresa H. Cruz, PhD
Start date October 1, 2013  
Source of funding: NM Human Services Department through a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed) grant

This project is funded through the USDA, and is subject to The USDA Nondiscrimination Statement. (English) (Spanish)

The Science Around Us

Project Director: Sally M. Davis, PhD
Project Contact: Kathryn Peters, MCRP, MA
Website: http://www.sciencearoundusnm.org/    

The Science Around Us is a science-enrichment program for rural, underserved middle schools funded by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA). The UNM SEPA Team works with school administration, teachers, students, and community members in order to enhance science curricula, field trips, career days, nature hikes, and other learning opportunities in and out of the classroom. Programming includes a Science Summer Day Camp each year for a week in June. The Science Around Us emphasizes role models, health careers, healthy living, and natural history. Learning activities are inquiry based, culturally appropriate and educationally sound. Frequent “Think Tanks” ensure teacher input and guidance.

Principal Investigators: Sally M. Davis, PhD and Shiraz Mishra, MBBS PhD
Start Date: 06/18/2012
Source of Funding: National Institute of Health (NIH), Grant R25 RR032163

Tobacco Programs Evaluation and Support

Project Director: Linda J. Peñaloza, PhD
Project Contact: Laura Gutman, PhD
Project Website: www.nmtupac.com

Dr. Peñaloza's Health Evaluation and Research Team of the Prevention Research Center (PRC) has been funded to provide assistance to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Tobacco Use Prevention and Control (TUPAC) Program for their statewide tobacco program. The goal of this project is to enhance program planning, implementation and reporting of important trends, data and best practices related to tobacco use in the state.

HEART has assisted TUPAC with designing its internal reporting structure to conform to CDC’s previously outlined goals and strategies, by developing objectives and indicators, and by creating a structure, called the TUPAC Evaluation Tool – (TET) to measure progress toward achieving these objectives statewide. HEART also developed and pilot-tested two databases for TUPAC - a web-based database for TUPAC contractors to use to evaluate their contract activities (called the eTET, or electronic TUPAC Evaluation Tool) and an activity tracking database for TUPAC staff to catalog and track on contractor objectives, activities, budgets and type of contract.

In FY15, HEART conducted an environmental scan of emerging tobacco products, specifically conducting focus groups and in-person interviews with youth and young adults about electronic cigarettes and electronic vaping devices. 

HEART provides technical assistance for all TUPAC contractors on developing eTET-based evaluation plans based on their program’s activities that match TUPAC’s goals, strategies, and objectives.

The eTET web-based program monitoring system assists TUPAC in 1) monitoring contracts (improve communication and accountability); 2) standardizing contractor program information collection (monthly and annual e-TET reports, narrative reports, and invoices); and 3) expanding the type of information and services available to TUPAC contractors.

The TUPAC program also provides supplemental funding for the RIsk/Resiliency Assessment Project for Students (RAPS).

Principal Investigator: Linda J. Peñaloza, PhD
Start and End Dates: 7/1/2003 -  
Sources of Funding: New Mexico Department of Health, Chronic Disease Bureau, Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program

Youth Risk & Resiliency Survey (YRRS)

Project Director: Linda J. Peñaloza, PhD
Project Contact: Courtney FitzGerald, MSW, LMSW
Project Website: www.youthrisk.org 

YRRSThe New Mexico Public Education Department and Department of Health conduct the Youth Risk & Resiliency Survey (NM-YRRS) every year in partnership with the Prevention Research Center (PRC). This survey is funded through the New Mexico Department of Health and in part through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control, Division of Adolescent and School Health (CDC/DASH); United States Department of Education, Title IV, Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities; and in collaboration with other units and divisions of the New Mexico Public Education Department, the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (AASTEC), and other partners.

The NM-YRRS is a component of the CDC/DASH Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), which is conducted semi-annually at the state and national levels in order to obtain important evaluation data for the support of adolescent health issues. The NM-YRRS is a student surveillance tool developed in New Mexico in order to assess the prevalence of health risk and protective factors of New Mexico youth. It is offered to all of New Mexico's 89 public school districts plus some BIE and state chartered Charter Schools. It is administered in middle and high schools in the fall of odd-numbered years.

The survey allows the state to monitor trends in student health and risk behavior and to assess both the risk and resiliency of youth. Multiple state agencies, local community groups and schools use the data to plan and allocate resources for the benefit of students around New Mexico. For survey results and updated information, visit www.youthrisk.org

Principal Investigator: Linda J. Peñaloza, PhD
Start and End Dates: 7/1/2003 - 
Source of Funding: New Mexico Department of Health, Epidemiology and Response Division