NYU-CUNY Prevention Research Center Completed Special Interest & Supplemental Projects
The NYU-CUNY Prevention Research Center (NYU-CUNY PRC), a partnership between NYU Langone and the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Healthy Policy, has completed special interest and supplemental research projects that addressed gaps in scientific evidence in fields as varied as obesity and nutrition policy in New York City; epilepsy; breast, colon, and cervical cancer awareness and screening; workplace health; cognitive impairment; smoking cessation among cancer survivors; HIV prevention and risk reduction; blood pressure; and oral health.
These projects further demonstrate our ability to combine innovative community- and clinic-based interventions to enhance preventive care and chronic disease prevention and management—particularly in underserved populations experiencing health disparities.
The NYU Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network Collaborating Center
From 2009 to 2014, the NYU Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN) studied and evaluated critical public policies addressing obesity, nutrition, and the food environment within low-income racial and ethnic minority communities in New York City and beyond. Led by Brian D. Elbel, PhD, MPH, we focused on examining actual policies and policy development, aligning closely with our partner, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Our Goals and Collaborators
Our goals included growing our network’s infrastructure and capacity at the university, government, and community level; conducting pilot research and evaluation projects related to nutrition and obesity prevention; and developing a comprehensive set of evidence-based city- and state-level nutrition and obesity prevention policy recommendations. Throughout our work, we collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (CDC DNPAO), as well as the national NOPREN network, Bronx Health REACH, New York Academy of Medicine, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, Highbridge Center for Community Life Community Engagement, Make the Road New York, Union Settlement Association, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the New York City Food Policy Center, and various NYU Langone academic and clinical partners.
Key Network Projects and Results
In five years, we advanced four original research projects: a pilot, qualitative exploration of New York City’s menu labeling policy; a quantitative evaluation of the water jet initiative in New York City schools; a Bronx community-based participatory examination of the Adopt a Bodega program in two communities; and a pilot examination of New York City Green Carts that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
Impact of Our Research
Our program created significant collaborations and networking with organizations that serve low-income racial and ethnic minorities across the city, where obesity prevention policy has its greatest potential. Through our collaborative efforts we were able to give voice to their concerns and create recommendations for tailoring policy to their needs.
Attitudes Toward Cognitive Health, Cognitive Impairment, and Caregiving: Identifying Attitude Questions and Measures for Public Health Practice
For this special interest project, we conducted a scoping review of the research literature to identify validated questions and measures about public perceptions and attitudes toward cognitive health, cognitive impairment, and caregiving. Victoria Raveis, PhD, and Nadia S. Islam, PhD, were principal investigators of this study.
Spearheaded by Nadia S. Islam, PhD, and team members from the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health, the initial two-year formative study, Muslim Americans Reaching for Health and Building Alliances (MARHABA), utilized qualitative methods to explore the barriers and facilitators to breast and cervical cancer screening among a diverse group of Muslim women in New York City. We used a community-based participatory research framework to collaborate with mosques, community-based organizations, and social service agencies to engage women from African American, African, South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian Muslim communities.
Study findings informed a renewed 3-year funding cycle, during which we developed, implemented, and evaluated the efficacy of a two-arm, randomized controlled trial designed to increase receipt of breast and cervical cancer screening among Muslim women aged 40 and above in New York City. Our study compared the use of large-scale, culturally tailored media delivered by a lay health worker to media coupled with lay health worker–led patient navigation to promote cancer awareness and screening in diverse New York City Muslim populations.
Explore the culturally adapted MARHABA campaign materials we developed.
Workplace Health Resource Network Collaborating Center
As collaborators within the Workplace Health Resource Network, researchers Nadia S. Islam, PhD, and Sherry Baron, MD, MPH, created a pilot project to engage low-wage and immigrant workers in a participatory workplace health program. Our team applied the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace Participatory Workplace Health Design Tool in a community setting, and identified how policy innovations can promote interest in workplace health programs. Learn more about the network and its research to promote and protect worker health, safety, and wellbeing.
Led by investigator Nadia S. Islam, PhD, we used a community-engaged mixed-methods study to explore barriers and facilitators to colorectal cancer screening among diverse South Asian subgroups in New York City, and disseminated the findings to inform the delivery of culturally tailored campaigns and interventions to increase screening. Using the New York City Community Health Survey, we conducted a secondary data analysis of a large, city-wide cross-sectional dataset with detailed country-of-origin information to explore socio-demographic, behavioral, access to care, and neighborhood-level barriers and facilitators of colorectal cancer screening among Asian Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi residents.
Our results demonstrated low rates of colorectal cancer screening among South Central Asian immigrants in New York City, suggesting that a confluence of poor access to healthcare, language barriers, and cultural and social beliefs plays a role in screening disparities. A provider referral, however, was an effective facilitator to screening among this population.
Serosorting and Other Seroadaptive Behaviors Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in the United States
Led by Christian Grov, PhD, MPH, and Simona C. Kwon, DrPH, MPH, this study produced a brief survey tool to assess seroadaptive strategies and test its performance in both clinical and outreach settings. Our survey tool enabled clinical providers and disease intervention specialists to quickly and accurately determine seroadaptive behaviors and practices among men who have sex with men, as well as provide targeted and tailored HIV prevention messaging and risk reduction strategies.
Proactive Care Coordination for Cancer Survivors Who Smoke
Using cancer registries at three healthcare systems in New York City, investigators Paul Krebs, PhD, and Erin Rogers, DrPH, MPH, conducted a randomized controlled trial evaluating the feasibility and efficacy of two methods of proactively engaging cancer survivors about tobacco cessation—telephone versus mailed care education and treatment. Proactive intervention delivered through telephone care was more effective at increasing referrals to and completed calls with the New York state quit line, but not in increasing nicotine replacement therapy use or abstinence rates compared with mailed care. Our results suggest that mailing information about cessation to cancer survivors could be a useful, low-burden strategy for increasing quit rates.
Managing Epilepsy Well Network Collaborating Center: Adapting Project UPLIFT for Hispanic Adults with Epilepsy and Depression
In our first funding cycle of this initiative, Tanya M. Spruill, PhD, and Orrin Devinsky, MD, translated and culturally tailored Project UPLIFT, or Using Practice and Learning to Increase Favorable Thoughts, a telephone-based mindfulness intervention for Hispanic adults with epilepsy and depressive symptoms. Dr. Spruill and Dr. Devinsky conducted a randomized controlled trial to test the feasibility, acceptability, and effects of the adapted UPLIFT program versus usual care on depressive symptoms and quality of life over 12 months. Rates of elevated depressive symptoms were lower through 12 months in participants randomized to UPLIFT compared with usual care. Along with high satisfaction ratings, these findings suggested that UPLIFT is a promising approach for reducing depressive symptoms in Hispanic people with epilepsy. Learn more about the Managing Epilepsy Well (MEW) Network.
Comparative Effectiveness Research Program
Our program, led by Joseph E. Ravenell, MD, and funded from 2014 to 2019, provided a framework to the NYU-CUNY Prevention Research Center for conducting unique community-level and community-driven comparative effectiveness research. In partnership with local health providers and community- and faith-based organizations, we evaluated a lifestyle intervention delivered through telephone-based motivational interviewing versus a patient navigation intervention on blood pressure reduction and colorectal cancer screening. Study findings from the Comparative Effectiveness Research Program helped launch a major patient navigation program called the Beatrice W. Welters Breast Health Outreach and Navigation Program in 2016.
Blood Pressure Reduction and Colorectal Cancer Screening in a Vulnerable Population
Black men have the highest rates of colorectal cancer and high blood pressure compared with any other ethnic group in the United States. Further, complications of high blood pressure, including heart disease and stroke, are the leading causes of death in Black men in America.
Dr. Ravenell and his research team conducted the MISTER B Trial: Community-Based, Preclinical Patient Navigation for Colorectal Cancer Screening Among Older Black Men Recruited from Barbershops. This randomized study of 731 African American men recruited at barbershops in New York City between 2010 and 2013 involved men who were aged 50 years or older, were not up to date on colorectal cancer screening, and had uncontrolled high blood pressure. To carry out this community-engaged research, Dr. Ravenell’s team established a network of more than 200 community sites across New York City, where community health workers could gain the trust of study participants and monitor their blood pressure, as well as encourage them to obtain a colorectal cancer screening.
In a second project, Faith-based Approaches to Treating Hypertension and Colon Cancer Prevention, we partnered with churches in New York City to compare the effectiveness of the same two interventions—motivational interviewing and patient navigation via community health workers—with similarly positive results.
Place-Based Results of a Community Health Worker Approach
Our research demonstrated that community-based patient navigation resulted in a fourfold increase of the colorectal cancer screening rate among low-income Black men, compared with traditional approaches. It also demonstrated the critical inroads community health workers can make to help patients more successfully navigate the healthcare system.
Watch Dr. Ravenell’s TEDx Talk “The Intersection of Health and Community Advocacy” and his TED Talk “How Barbershops Can Keep Men Healthy” to learn more about the impact of his health equity research.
DentaQuest Oral Health Promotion Program
There are few community-based interventions targeted to Asian American subgroups that are designed to both assess and meet their dental health needs. To improve dental health and healthcare for this population, public health and primary care interventions must be leveraged through liaisons with trusted community-based partners.
UNITED SIKHS, a partner organization of the completed Reaching Immigrants through Community Empowerment core research project, or Project RICE, was one of only four recipients of a September 2012 award from the DentaQuest Foundation’s National Community Committee Oral Health Initiative. This initiative was led by UNITED SIKHS in collaboration with Nadia S. Islam, PhD, at the NYU-CUNY PRC and Mary E. Northridge, PhD, MPH, at the NYU College of Dentistry.
Our collaboration generated a descriptive study on dental health promotion and development of a family-based dental intervention in the Sikh and South Asian communities in New York City and New Jersey.