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Novel Strategies for School Based-Tobacco Prevention Effort

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2011 (Cycle 20) Grant #: 20GT-0099 Award: $124,933
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Pilot SARA

Initial Award Abstract
Schools have provided a key venue in which to implement tobacco-focused prevention and intervention programs; school-based tobacco education efforts have had mixed results. In 2009, we received a TRDRP Pilot SARA grant to examine school-based tobacco control and education efforts, with an eye toward developing new, developmentally appropriate, comprehensive tobacco prevention efforts. The aims of the original Pilot SARA project included establishing a consortium between UCSF and Bay Area middle schools and then conducting focus groups with parents, teachers and students. Since receiving the original Pilot SARA grant, we conducted 7 focus groups with middle and high school students, 5 with elementary, middle and high school parents, and 2 with school officials. Preliminary analyses of the focus group data identified several areas in which school-based tobacco control efforts can be improved. Further, since obtaining the original Pilot SARA grant, the California Department of Education (CDE) created a new process by which school-based tobacco programs in California are now awarded via a competitive bid process, leaving some school districts without any or only limited funding for tobacco education. Given these new guidelines, it is unclear if the findings from our focus groups should be translated into a new tobacco control program, a larger more comprehensive school-based curriculum, a supplement to existing programs, or other dissemination strategies. Rather than have our team synthesize the data and decide on next steps in isolation, it is imperative that we work with key stakeholders involved in school-based tobacco education to ensure that the new program developed will meet school guidelines, be developmentally appropriate, be feasible within the school setting, and be acceptable to the funding agencies. We are applying to TRDRP to propose a 1-year competitive renewal of our TRDRP Pilot SARA grant to fund these efforts. The specific aims of this competitive renewal are: 1) To solidify additional partnerships between: a) investigators at the University of California, San Francisco, b) elementary, middle and high schools, c) county tobacco coordinators and health educators, d) individuals from CDE, TEROC, and the California Department of Public Health, and e) parents and youth. Through these partnerships, it is expected that we will create a Consortium of individuals and agencies committed to tobacco control education and to the development of novel school-based intervention strategies. This aim is an expansion of Aim 1 in our original study, in which our partnership was limited to a small group of schools. 2) To conduct additional focus groups with teachers and county coordinators from schools in Southern California. 3) Through discussions with members of the Consortium, we will synthesize and disseminate the focus group data. In so doing, we will identify novel tobacco education messages and delivery strategies, and we will discuss the best forum for which to apply the findings. While we have already begun analyses of our focus group data, we have not done so in collaboration with this larger Consortium, thus allowing us to ensure that the recommendations, strategies and tobacco control efforts meet CDE and TEROC guidelines. Moreover, we want to ensure that the new tobacco education recommendations that result from this study will be integrated into the new CDE guidelines and funding requirements currently under revision. 4) To develop culturally and developmentally appropriate health messages and delivery strategies that can be incorporated into a comprehensive school-based intervention. It is expected that the findings from this formative research and the collaborations and relations resulting from this project will lead to the development and implementation of developmentally and culturally appropriate programs at the school level. The resultant program is expected to be novel not only in content, but also in the methods used to convey anti-tobacco messages to youth. Ultimately, we expect to conduct a randomized control trial to more fully test whether the resultant novel school-based model is effective.