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School-based tobacco control programming for deaf/hh youth

Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Investigator(s): Barbara Berman, Ph.D. Debra Sue Guthmann, Ed..D.
Award Cycle: 2003 (Cycle 12) Grant #: 12HT-3201 Award: $506,967
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Full SARA

Initial Award Abstract
Deaf and hard-of-hearing (deaf/hh) youth are at risk for tobacco use and many of those who smoke want to quit. However, prevention/cessation materials/messages available to hearing youth are often inaccessible and inadequate for deaf/hh young people. Deaf/hh youth indicate that messages in their own signed languages would be more easily understood, better accepted, and would have greater impact, but most anti-tobacco PSAs and educational videos are not captioned or available in American Sign Language (ASL). Deaf Community leaders identify tailored school-based programming as key to tobacco control among deaf youth, but to date, although badly needed, no such programs have ever been developed or rigorously evaluated. Simply translating programs designed for hearing youth is not the answer, failing as these interventions do to specifically address aspects of deaf youth culture and experience, or the educational circumstances of this population.

The study we propose seeks to address this significant gap in our State’s tobacco control program by extending a collaboration, established through a pilot SARA, of educators with state-and nationally recognized expertise in Deaf youth culture, behavior, and education [California School for the Deaf, Fremont (CSDF)] and researchers with specific experience relevant to tobacco use in this population (UCLA Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research, School of Public Health and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center). Building on the cumulative findings from a 5-year program of TRDRP-funded research, the only one of its kind in the nation, we will develop, implement and rigorously evaluate a school-based tobacco prevention and cessation program tailored to the unique social, cultural, and communication needs of deaf/hh youth. The Specific Aims of our study are to: (1) finalize and produce a tailored school-based tobacco-control program for deaf/hh students, grades 7-12; (2) assess the program’s impact using a quasi-experimental non-equivalent control group design, implementing the program at 2 schools for the Deaf [CSDF and the Katzenbach School for the Deaf (KSD), New Jersey] during a 3 year intervention period, and including the California School for the Deaf, Riverside (CSDR) and the Minnesota School Academy for the Deaf (MSAD) as (non-intervention) control sites; (3) conduct a written survey at baseline and at the end of each year of the 3 year intervention period among all students, grades 7-12, at all participating schools (N=800); analyze these survey data to assess the impact of the program on the students’ tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP); (4) administer a written questionnaire at baseline and at the end of the 3 year intervention program among school faculty, staff, and administrators at all participating schools to examine perspectives on tobacco education, programming, future programming intentions, and curriculum assessment and implementation fidelity (end-of-program intervention schools, only); and (5) disseminate research findings to the Deaf community and schools/ program (day/ residential, mainstream) serving deaf/hh youth in California and nationwide.

This proposed study takes the steps needed to achieve an excellent, tailored, comprehensive school-based anti-tobacco program for deaf/hh youth, a key element in tobacco control intervention among this underserved and understudied population. The full SARA study we propose: meets all TRDRP criteria for an effective school-academic partnership, enjoys the strong support and commitment of the Deaf Community, and promises to make an important contribution to California’s battle against tobacco use that can only be won when it effectively reaches all youth, statewide.