Center for Child & Adolescent Health Research and Policy

Intervention and Policy Advocacy for Changing Environments (IPACE)

Intervention and Policy Advocacy for Changing Environments (IPACE) conducts community-based research to further knowledge through community partnerships that promote health and sustainable, systemic change. IPACE programming aims to empower young people and bring their voices to the health policy table to be agents of change for themselves and their communities. The multidisciplinary IPACE staff has expertise in pediatrics, adolescent medicine, behavioral health, mental health, nutrition, physical activity, community health promotion, social policy, research and evaluation. We are now in the process of establishing new collaborative relationships in communities served by Massachusetts General Hospital’s community programs and health centers. IPACE plans to bring community research methodologies that utilize the youth perspective to this work and to develop studies that will inform and improve community policies and programs to maximize the potential for healthy children, families and communities.

Children’s Use of the Built Environment for Physical Activity Study (CUBES)

Childhood obesity continues to be a major public health problem, and national trends indicate insufficient and declining levels of physical activity in children. The design of buildings and neighborhoods, known collectively as the built environment, has the potential to influence physical activity. Using a collaborative cross-disciplinary approach to physical activity research that bridges the design-related (architecture and urban planning) and health professions, CUBES aims to better understand how children use the built environment for physical activity, and to then test a strategy for increasing physical activity in children by increasing their use of the built environment. This NIH-funded study, which takes place in Revere, MA, uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS) and accelerometers to determine where, and to what extent, children engage in physical activity in their neighborhoods; to assess for variations in built environment use by race/ethnicity, and then test whether applying this information in the office setting can enhance physical activity counseling.

For more information, please visit the CUBES website at www.arKIDtecture.org.

Healthy Living Today

This study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, aims to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of a family-centered obesity disease management program that focuses on family and child lifestyles. The study is a randomized controlled trial of 60 families with an obese child between the ages of 9 and 12. The intervention offers coaching to empower families to make lifestyle decisions as a family unit and prioritize their health, thereby helping them to navigate community resources to address family nutrition and physical activity and Interactive Group Classes for children and a household adult focused on nutrition, indoor/outdoor activity and modeling healthy snacks. The findings will provide evidence as to whether family-level preventive interventions to address lifestyles that promote healthy weight are an effective means to address childhood obesity.

Princeton School District (PSD) Study

Elimination of social inequalities in health, including those due to differences in social status, is one of the major challenges facing society today. Disparities due to social status are well documented for heart disease, diabetes and cancer, as well as many other such chronic diseases that begin early in life but do not become manifest until later in adulthood. However, the process by which these disparities develop remains a mystery. In order to enhance our understanding of the process by which social inequalities in health accrue, the Princeton School District (PSD) study follows a cohort of students who were in the fifth to twelfth grade in 2001-2002 in the Princeton City School District, a socioeconomically and racially diverse public school district in the Greater Cincinnati area. Phase 1 of the PSD Study (2001-2005) involved four waves of data collection. Over the four years, 2,245 students have participated in the Social Status component during Phase 1 of the PSD study. Phase 2 of the PSD Study began in February 2008 and follows a subset of the cohort during the transition to young adulthood. Phase 2 includes two additional waves of data collection among a subset of Phase 1 participants.

Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center (BNORC) Clinical and Community Core

BNORC’s Clinical and Community Research Core was established in late 2006 to support obesity researchers working in community and clinical settings. The Clinical and Community Research Core serves three main functions:
1) To provide qualitative methods services
2) To provide consultative services regarding the appropriate uses and limitations of qualitative, clinical and survey research methods, data management and measurement of body composition and behavioral risk factors for obesity, under-nutrition or conditions that predispose to malnutrition
3) To provide support and an environment stimulating interest and training in community- and clinic-based obesity-related research for junior faculty, medical residents and doctoral and medical students

For more information visit: http://www.bumc.bu.edu/bnorc/core-services/clinical/.

Identifying alcohol and drug treatment need in women aged 15-49

Alcohol and drug treatment programs know who they serve, but can only estimate who they do not serve; the inability to accurately measure unmet treatment need, especially among women of reproductive age, is a key barrier to developing interventions to reduce drug-related health consequences for women, their children and society. This project describes an innovative collaboration to link two existing independent state data systems (BSAS and PELL) to create a new, unique longitudinal, epidemiologic database that combines drug treatment data with hospital utilization and health outcomes data, to broadly identify drug-related problems and the prevalence of unmet treatment need, and to track alcohol and drug-related health outcomes among Massachusetts women of reproductive age and their children. For the first time, women in need of drug treatment services who did not receive them will be individually identifiable, allowing for better estimation and description of unmet need. The new linked data will permit assessment of disparities among women with met and unmet treatment need through multiple sources of data, including using a tested algorithm to identify drug diagnoses in hospital data. Moreover, the linked data will allow the examination of subsequent health outcomes among women ages 15-49, and birth outcomes among their children.

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