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Nursing School Receives Grant Aimed at Reducing Unhealthy Behaviors

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    The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded a three-year grant totaling nearly $1 million to investigators at the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies to educate a new generation of health care providers in the identification and intervention of unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, substance abuse, and risky sexual behavior.

    The key component of the project is a nationally recognized evidence-based approach called SBIRT (Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment). The grant will be used to train primary health care providers and students in how to implement the SBIRT intervention while treating their patients. The ultimate goal is to catalyze systemic changes in health care delivery in practice settings across South Florida.

    The SAMHSA funding will also help strengthen the UM nursing school’s solid bond with its community partners, a relationship Dean Nilda Peragallo Montano says is crucial to the school’s effort to educate the next generation of health care professionals.

    “We are proud that with the support of SAMHSA we can contribute to building the competencies of primary care providers working in a variety of professional health care disciplines,” said Dean Peragallo Montano. “It is central to the mission of our school to produce future health care leaders who are trained in the delivery of science-based, culturally sensitive interventions to combat health-destructive behaviors at their early stages. Dr. Daniel Santisteban and his colleagues are to be commended for bringing this important SBIRT initiative to our community.”

    Santisteban, who is the project’s principal investigator, said “pointing out unhealthy behaviors can often lead patients to feel uncomfortable and to become defensive. The key to SBIRT is to work with patients in a way that mobilizes their motivation to change.”

    One of the keys to making SBIRT effective is motivational interviewing. Training will focus on developing competence using this evidence-based intervention. Among those slated to receive specialized training in the delivery of the SBIRT intervention are UM undergraduate, master’s-level, and doctoral-level nursing students as well as School of Education and Human Development counseling students. The SAMHSA funding will also provide for the training of health care teams at nursing school community partner practice sites, including University of Miami Hospital, Connect Familias, and Saint John Bosco Health Center.

    These student, community, and workforce training activities reduce health disparities by bringing research-driven methods to the front lines of health care practices serving poor and disenfranchised minority populations. The work aligns with the larger mission of the SONHS Center of Excellence for Health Disparities Research, created in 2007.


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