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An Interactive Education Program to Reduce High Risk Behavior in Adolescents

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R42HD110333-01
Agency Tracking Number: R42HD110333
Amount: $266,092.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: NICHD
Solicitation Number: PA21-261
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-09-19
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-08-31
Small Business Information
1667 COLE BLVD STE 225
Golden, CO 80401-3313
United States
DUNS: 117936042
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (401) 444-8539
Business Contact
Phone: (303) 565-4330
Research Institution
PROVIDENCE, RI 02903-4923
United States

 Domestic Nonprofit Research Organization

Internet-based TRAC (i-TRAC): Interactive Emotion Regulation Skills Training to Improve AdolescentSexual Health
Adolescence is a critical developmental period during which behavioral patterns are formed that have powerful
influences on current and future health. This is particularly true for sexual behavior, which is affected by the
biological changes of puberty as well as normative developmental tasks around sexual exploration. Engaging
in sexual behavior in early adolescence (before age 15) is associated with more partners, less condom use,
and more frequent sex as teens get older, and these factors increase risk for negative health outcomes (e.g.,
sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy) throughout their lives. Many sexual health interven-
tions teach prevention skills, such as assertiveness or condom use; the premise of the current application is
that these skills are often unused by adolescents because of deficits in emotion regulation (ER), which is un-
addressed in most sexual health education. Our research team has developed and tested a novel, engaging,
efficacious, and developmentally tailored group intervention (Project TRAC) to teach ER skills to early adoles-
cents within the context of sexual health. A study of Project TRAC showed that participants taught ER skills
were less likely to start having sex over the 2.5 year follow up. While efficacious, the small group format of the
program presents barriers to sustainability and dissemination; significant advantages of web-based delivery
exist. To explore whether the ER concepts of TRAC could be taught in a web-based format, we completed a
pilot study to translate TRACandapos;s ER content to a web-based intervention (iTRAC), using Designing for Dissemi-
nation principles that enhance the likelihood of successful dissemination upon completion. iTRAC demonstrat-
ed feasibility and acceptability, and a randomized trial showed that iTRAC participants reported significantly
better emotional competence compared to waitlist control participants. The proposed Fast Track project will
complete the technology adaptation of the program to include its sexual health content and content linking ER
to sexual health. This adaptation (iTRAC for Sexual Risk Prevention; iTRAC-SRP), using well-established the-
oretical frameworks, will be approached with advisory boards of school professionals and early adolescents,
leading to prototypes of the completed intervention in Phase 1. Phase 2 will include the creation of the remain-
ing digital intervention, an acceptability trial, and a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 120 early adolescents
(12-14 years) comparing iTRAC-SRP to a waitlist control. This project represents innovation in adolescent
sexual health; its implementation has great potential for sustainability and accessibility.PROJECT NARRATIVE
The proposed research will fill a gap by completing the adaptation of iTRAC, a web-based emotion regulation
sexual health intervention, and testing its efficacy in promoting safer sexual cognitions and delaying sexual
initiation among early adolescents. This application addresses the Office of Disease Prevention and Health
Promotionandapos;s Healthy People 2030 indicator FP-08, to increase the proportion of adolescents who get formal
sex education before age 18 years (currently less than 53%). It also uses a novel approach, emotion regulation
skills training, to address indicator FP-04, to increase the proportion of adolescents who have never had sexual
intercourse, and indicator FP-06, to increase the proportion of adolescents who used condoms at last sexual

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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