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School-based anti-tobacco programs for deaf/HH youth

Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Investigator(s): Barbara Berman, Ph.D. Debra Sue Guthmann, Ed..D.
Award Cycle: 2001 (Cycle 10) Grant #: 10GT-3101 Award: $74,976
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Pilot SARA

Initial Award Abstract
Deaf and hard-of-hearing (deaf/hh) youth are at risk for tobacco experimentation and regular use, and many of those who smoke want to quit. Unfortunately, prevention and cessation materials and messages available to hearing youth are often inaccessible and inadequate for deaf/hh young people. First deaf/hh youth indicate that messages in their own signed languages would be more easily understood, better accepted, and would have a greater impact. But most anti-tobacco public service announcements or educational videos are not available with captions or in American Sign Language (ASL). Second, simply translating materials and messages designed for hearing youth may not be the answer. Interventions designed for hearing children and teenagers are frequently not appropriate, failing as they do to specifically address aspects of Deaf youth culture and experience. Finally, deaf youth are educated in varied mainstream and residential/day schools and settings. School-based curricula and strategies need to be carefully crafted so that they can be successfully implemented in these diverse environments. Despite the fact that they are badly needed, no such school-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs tailored to the unique social, cultural, educational and communication needs of deaf/hh children, adolescents and young adults have ever been developed or rigorously evaluated.

We propose to address this unmet need through a collaboration of educators with state- and nationally-recognized expertise in Deaf youth culture, behavior and education, and researchers with specific experience relevant to tobacco use in this population. The Aims of this Pilot SARA project are: (1) to establish a tobacco prevention partnership between the California School for the Deaf, Fremont (CSDF) and the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research, School of Public Health and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA (UCLA) that features a Working Group of students, faculty, staff, parents (CSDF) and researchers (UCLA) to guide and conduct all aspects of this study; (2) to design and develop a draft tailored school-based anti-tobacco prevention program targeted to deaf/hh children and adolescents. To achieve this Aim the Working Group will draw on recently available findings from TRDRP funded tobacco-related research -- unique in the nation -- focused on deaf/hh youth; on the strategies and approaches that have proved effective in educational programming for deaf/hh students (CSDF); and on a careful, selective, critical assessment of materials and approaches that have been implemented and evaluated among hearing youth; (3) to conduct focus groups among students, faculty/staff, and parents at CSDF, and, based on the results of these groups, to revise the draft program; (4) to disseminate the revised draft program to deaf/hh students and educators of deaf/hh students at residential, day, and mainstream schools, and to leaders and agencies in the Deaf community, for their review and critique of the program; and (5) to synthesize all findings and finalize components of the program based on this review and critique, in preparation for a full SARA randomized controlled trial of this program.

This proposed pilot SARA addresses the need for excellent, tailored, comprehensive school-based anti-tobacco programming among students at CSDF and other deaf/hh youth in the State. Meeting all TRDRP criteria for an effective school-academic partnership, this study will allow us to move towards the goal of tobacco use prevention and cessation for this underserved and understudied population. In so doing, our research will be making an important contribution to California's battle against tobacco use that can only be won when it effectively reaches all young people, statewide.