Research Projects

Center for Contextual Genetics and Prevention Science (CGAPS)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: NIDA
Project Period: 2009-2014

In what ways does the unique genetic makeup of an individual combine with the social context in which he or she lives to determine drug use and sexual risk tendencies?

DNACGAPS is a Core Center of Excellence funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The overall mission of CGAPS is to gain a better understanding of the development of drug use and sexual risk behavior among children, adolescents, and young adults. Most of the research about these important public health concerns has focused solely on the environmental contexts in which youth spend time: families, peer groups, neighborhoods, and schools. Social scientists have generated an impressive body of research that describes the ways in which these important influences either deter or create risks for youth drug abuse and sexual risk behavior. An important dimension, however, is missing, one that is critical for understanding why some youth abstain from risk behavior altogether, others engage in occasional risk behavior, and some develop serious problems that can lead to substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections including HIV. The missing dimension is each youth’s unique genetic makeup. Currently, the ways in which an individual’s unique genetic makeup combine with the social context in which he or she lives to determine drug use and sexual risk tendencies are not well understood. We hope that the research that CGAPS sponsors will provide greater insight into this complex interplay and, in turn, influence prevention models currently used to deter involvement with drugs and sexual risk behavior. For more information, please visit the CGAPS webpage.

SAAF-Steps: A Dual Inoculation Approach to Alcohol Prevention among African American Youth

Principal Investigator: Steven Kogan
Funding Agency: NIAAA
Project Period: 2012-2017

How effective is a dual-inoculation strategy of prevention programming in minimizing risk behaviors among youth?

alcohol abuseIn this study, we will recruit a sample of 460 African American families into a four-arm randomized prevention trial and evaluate the differential alcohol prevention effects of (a) a dual inoculation of prevention (youth receive SAAF at age 11 and SAAF–T at age 14) compared to (b) receipt of only one preadolescent inoculation (SAAF only), (c) one mid-adolescent inoculation (SAAF-T only) or (d) no inoculation (control). Our specific aims regarding the efficacy of the dual inoculation strategy are to test the following hypotheses: (1) Rural African American youth randomly assigned to participate in two developmentally appropriate prevention inoculations (SAAF and SAAF–T) will demonstrate lower rates of alcohol use initiation and frequency of use in high school than will youth who receive one (SAAF only or SAAF–T only) or no inoculations. We also expect that single inoculation youth (SAAF only or SAAF–T only) will demonstrate lower rates of alcohol use in high school than will control youth receiving no inoculations, and (2) Effects on alcohol use of a dual inoculation strategy will be mediated by consistently high levels of intervention-targeted protective processes across adolescence.

SAAF Technology Dissemination Model (SAAF-TDM)

Principal Investigator: Carol MacKinnon-Lewis (USF), Christina Grange (UGA)
Funding Agency: NIDA
Project Period: 2012-2014

Is a live, web-based training as effective as a traditional facilitator (in-person) training at preparing facilitators to implement a universal preventative intervention program with strong fidelity?

working on computerIn this pilot project 40 facilitators in Gadsen County, Florida will receive 24 hours of facilitator training for the Strong African American Families (SAAF) program. A two-wave pre-post design will be conducted with four groups of 10 facilitators to examine the feasibility of an internet-based training intervention to foster facilitators’ fidelity to the SAAF intervention model. After each cohort completes training, they participate in four different four hour meetings to review curriculum content. Facilitator fidelity to the intervention will also be assessed based on independent observer ratings during implementation session with families. Recruitment for this project began in July 2012 and will conclude in February 2014.

The Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting Enhanced Engagement Protocol Implementation

Principal Investigator: Anita Brown
Funding Agency: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Project Period: 2011-2013

two childrenCFR is responsible for the technical assistance and training associated with an Enhanced Engagement Protocol designed to increase the numbers of at risk families who enroll in home visiting as well as extend the number of months they remain engaged so as to receive full benefit of the program. The protocol is based on the recruitment and retention protocol that CFR has utilized for the past several decades to enhance research participation. The primary strategy is the activity of a Community Peer Liaison (CPL) who is a graduate of the home visiting program and works in cooperation with the family support worker to support a family’s involvement in home visiting.

Great Start Georgia: Evaluation of the Information and Referral Center and Enhanced Engagement Protocol

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agency: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Project Period: 2011-13

mother and childrenIn a competitive proposal submitted to HRSA as part of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, the Great Start Georgia leadership team described two activities that would be crucial to Georgia’s home visiting network infrastructure: (1) a Department of Public Health Central Intake and Referral Center and (2) an Enhanced Engagement Strategy designed to improve home visiting engagement rates of at risk families. CFR is responsible for evaluating both of these initiatives. For the Information and Referral Center evaluation, CFR will compare the IRC-resourced counties with matched control counties to examine number of families linked to resources and rates of utilization of public and privately funded services for young children. A randomized trial is being conducted for the Enhanced Engagement Protocol evaluation allowing a comparison of engagement and retention rates between the intervention and control groups.

Governor's Office for Children and Families Grants Management System Design and Development Project

Principal Investigator: Anita Brown
Funding Agency: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Project Start Date: March 1, 2012

family wavingIn March 2012, CFR was awarded a subcontract from GOCF to design and develop a grants management system that would support their office in the efficient and effective distribution of dollars to local communities to make a positive impact in various areas that align with GOCF’s mission. CFR partnered with the Information Technology Outreach Services of UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to transfer GOCF’s current information system to UGA and begin to administer it while at the same time beginning to design a more comprehensive and facile information system. CFR staff provide technical assistance and training on the information system. An additional component of the contract includes the evaluation of the program efficacy of all GOCF grantees.

Strong African American Families Project (SAAF)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agency: NIAAA
Project Period: 1999-2011

How can parents and communities help preadolescents to make positive choices as they gain increasing autonomy throughout adolescence?

three young peopleIn 1999, CFR received funds to develop and test a family-based prevention program for rural African American preadolescents and their primary caregivers. Based on more than 10 years of research conducted at the University of Georgia and Iowa State University with African American families, the curriculum was developed under the leadership of Dr. Virginia Molgaard of Iowa State. Cultural relevance was a priority; it was ensured via a series of meetings in which African American parents and youth provided feedback on the curriculum. The result was SAAF, a 7-week family-based program designed to help 11- and 12-year-olds make positive choices as they enter adolescence. Parents and youth meet separately for 1 hour, then work together for another hour in family groups to apply their new skills. More than 600 families participated in this clinical trial. As of July 2008, six of the numerous planned follow-up assessments have been conducted, and positive effects of the program continue to be found three years after participation. The following statement from a mother is an example of how families feel about SAAF “I wish that we could keep going for the rest of the year. I really enjoy using the tools I learned … is a very interesting and fantastic program. Very helpful.” The SAAF curriculum is now available for use by community organizations, government agencies, and church groups. It has been adopted by agencies in Georgia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, California, Iowa, and Washington, DC.

The Rural African American Families Health Project (RAAFH)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agency: NIDA
Project Period: 2006-2012

Will a family-based program designed to support rural African American teens in making positive decisions and avoiding risky behaviors be effective?

children playingRAAFH is a randomized clinical trial, involving approximately 500 families, that is being conducted in six counties in Georgia. Its purpose is to test the efficacy of the Strong African American Families–Teen (SAAF–T) program, a 5-week, family-based intervention designed to delay the onset of alcohol use and to prevent the use of illicit substances and engagement in risky sexual behaviors among rural African American adolescents. Posttest and long-term follow-up assessments from families who participate in SAAF–T will be compared with those of families assigned to an attention-control group, who participate in a program designed to enhance health and fitness.


The SAAF-Teen Program: Economic Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Phaedra Corso
Funding Agency: NIDA
Project Period: 2008-2013

two friendsIn 2008, NIDA funded an economic evaluation of the SAAF-T program. The efficacy of this program, targeted for youth, ages 14-16 and their primary caregivers, and designed to minimize risky behaviors and support successful transition to young adulthood was explored in the RAAFH project. Two additional data assessments were collected from participating families as part of this economic evaluation. Data indicating program outcomes were considered and program requirements (time burden and resources) were calculated to determine the cost effectiveness of program implementation.

Adults in the Making Project

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: NIDA and W. T. Grant Foundation
Project Period: 2004-2010

How can parents and other supportive adults help African American teens make a positive transition to adulthood?

mother daughterAIM is a federally funded research study designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a 6-week, family-based program created to support African American teens in their positive transition to adulthood. In 2006, W. T. Grant Foundation provided additional funding to allow an exploration of the influence that supportive adults other than an adolescent’s parents might have on the transition to adulthood. In this clinical trial, families were randomly assigned to participate in one of three conditions: (1) the family-based treatment, (2) the family-based treatment plus a 1-day workshop for supportive adults other than parents, or (3) a control condition. Substance use is the key outcome under study.


The Connections Project

Principal Investigator: Steve Kogan
Funding Agencies: NIDA
Project Period: 2006-2011

What health issues concern rural African American young adults?

children at playConnections had a two-pronged purpose: (1) to explore various health issues that are relevant for rural African American adults after they have left the high school environment, and (2) to test a sampling strategy, Respondent Driven Sampling, that has been used with other difficult-to-reach populations. Data were collected from about 300 young adults between the fall of 2007 and winter of 2008. Participants completed a 90-minute questionnaire on a laptop computer and were later asked to refer up to three other people for participation. This study was used to inform a larger-scale study of African American Men’s Health (see AMP).

Program for Strong African American Marriage (ProSAAM)

Principal Investigator: Steven Beach
Funding Agencies: John Templeton Foundation and Administration for Children and Families
Year Project Began: 2005-2008

Is ProSAAM, a program designed to strengthen African Americans’ marriages, effective?

happy coupleProSAAM is a 3-year intervention study designed to find the best ways for African American couples to keep their relationships strong and to reach the goals they have set for themselves. It was also designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the program’s educational curriculum, which is based on the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP). The 500 couples who participated in ProSAAM were randomly assigned to a skills-based intervention group, an intercessory prayer plus skills-based intervention group, or a control group. The first group received the traditional PREP curriculum; the second group also received the PREP curriculum and were asked to pray for their partners; and the third group received a book.. As of July 2008, data analyses were underway to determine the program’s effectiveness.


Healthy Families Georgia Program Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Year Project Began: 1999-2010

Is the Healthy Families Georgia home visiting program effective in promoting positive parenting and preventing child abuse?

smiling boyHealthy Families Georgia (HFG) is part of the national Healthy Families America initiative. This home visitation program is designed to help new parents adjust to their new role and learn how to provide safe, nurturing contexts for their children’s growth. As part of a collaborative effort among the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (hyperlink to, Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (hyperlink to, and communities throughout Georgia, HFG has been serving the needs of first-time parents at risk since 1993.

The Governor’s Office for Children and Families contracted with CFR to conduct an ongoing evaluation of HFG. Outcome data have been collected since July 2000. The Healthy Families Georgia Information System (HFGIS) was developed by CFR staff and implemented in August 2003. Through this web-based database, both process and outcome data can be entered at the site level and stored in a central location at UGA. In addition to their ongoing management of HFGIS, CFR staff aggregate process and outcome data from the system to report periodically on statewide trends and provide an in-depth program evaluation focusing on the overall effectiveness of HFG.

In 2010, the Governor’s Office of Children and Families was funded to implement the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting project. Healthy Families Georgia programs continued in multiple communities as a result of this effort and the evaluation was folded into the larger evaluation of this program.