The National Institutes of Health has awarded Professor Vincent Guilamo-Ramos of NYU's Silver School of Social Work two major grants for his research on inner-city Latino and African American adolescent sexual behavior. Both projects will study teenagers and their families in the Bronx.
The first grant—$2.6 million over five years—will fund a large scale randomized clinical trial designed to create parent-based interventions that prevent or reduce sexual activity of inner-city teens. This novel approach draws upon the collaborative efforts of social workers, pediatricians, and parents and has applied implications for these groups and other adolescent healthcare providers.
Coordinated by social workers, the study includes an initial intervention with adolescents and their mothers during annual physicals conducted at a community health care clinic. A social worker will meet with the teen’s mother and will share specific strategies for talking to her child about delaying sexual behavior and reducing risk. By the end of the research, Guilamo-Ramos hopes to further develop a practical, effective, and cost-efficient intervention that will reach large numbers of adolescents through health care settings.
A second grant—$3.1 million over five years—will examine how family influences the formation of adolescent romantic relationships. Specifically, the research will explore partner selection and parental messages conveyed to youth about preferred partner characteristics. Using a prospective research design, Guilamo-Ramos and his research team will interview 16- to18-year-old couples and their parents to forecast the couple’s sexual behavior. By shedding light on adolescent couples and familial influences of romantic partner formation the study will inform parent-based interventions designed to address adolescent couples and sexual risk behavior.
“Strategies that address adolescents within the context of their families and integrate the prevention of adolescent pregnancy, HIV, and other STIs among youth of color are sorely needed,” said Guilamo-Ramos. “While social workers are not seen as part of this type of public health response, they are uniquely positioned due to their interventions and programs centered around effective approaches based on socio-cultural and contextual influences.”