Dr. Rogério Meireles Pinto of the Columbia University School of Social Work has been awarded a five-year $3.3 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to conduct the first-ever longitudinal study involving training and follow-up of HIV prevention counselors, program managers, educators, and coordinators in New York City. The study will involve assessing predictors of changes in Interagency Collaboration (IC) among HIV prevention providers over time. It will examine providers’ delivery of evidence-based practices as a function of IC.

In conducting this ground-breaking work, Dr. Pinto will be joined by three other investigators – Drs. Nabila El-Bassel and Susan Witte from the CUSSW, and Dr. Melanie Wall from the New York State Psychiatric Institute – along with a team of practitioners who are all members of the Research-to-Practice Community Collaborative Board, chaired by Dr. Pinto: Doug Warn, LCSW; Rosa Brambleweed, LCSW; Juan David Gastolomendo, LMSW; Jeannette Ruffins, LCSW; and Wendy Whitman, LAC.

Dr. Pinto’s study will involve 350 providers in New York City, an epicenter of the HIV epidemic, where high rates of infection affect communities of color and particularly African Americans and Latinos. This study responds to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which calls for collaborative efforts to promote evidence-based services by engaging HIV service providers in interagency collaboration: mutual referrals, information sharing, service evaluation, and outcome dissemination.

“Collaboration between and across agencies has made a positive impact in several areas of care, such as in hospice, nursing and child welfare settings. Interagency collaboration improves providers’ communication and integration of services and thus enhances service coordination and perhaps cost effectiveness,” says Dr. Pinto. “So we need to study interagency collaboration as a strategy to improve delivery of evidence-based HIV prevention practices.”

Dr. Pinto’s research focuses on the involvement of community partners in scientific research, including both community residents who are consumers of HIV prevention and treatment services as well as practitioners who provide these services. In his own work as a practitioner, Dr. Pinto has observed that the extent to which other providers engage in interagency collaboration can be influenced by factors such as interdependence, supportive professional activities, flexibility in how HIV-related services are provided and a sense of collective ownership of the advances made in the HIV/AIDS field. The impact of such factors is confirmed by both the extant literature and the findings of Dr. Pinto’s research partners, who have worked in the HIV field since the beginning of the epidemic.

“This award from NIMH is evidence of the importance of incorporating community voices in HIV prevention research and of approaching scientific inquiry by using Community-Based Participatory Research theory and practice,” says Dr. Pinto. “My collaborators and I are confident that knowledge of how interagency collaboration influences evidence-based practices in New York City will inform the implementation of behavioral and biomedical interventions across multiple diffusion systems and thus improve the numbers of individuals receiving evidence-based HIV prevention services.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Pinto, please contact the Communications Office at the Columbia University School of Social Work at swcommunications@columbia.edu
 or 212-851-2327.

About the Research-to-Practice Community Collaborative Board (RPCCB):

Dr. Pinto provided HIV services for a decade prior to becoming a researcher. Supported by a Columbia University Diversity Program Research Fellowship, he built the RPCCB with the input of providers/managers and consumers in all aspects of his research. Using data from board members, Dr. Pinto published a paper* showing how the CCB enhances provider-researcher collaboration and in turn promotes dissemination of research findings. A group of practitioners was involved in developing the interagency collaboration study’s proposal and in piloting the Interagency Collaboration Enhancement Training (ICE-T), which will be delivered to the study’s participants. Their unique contributions will improve measures, data analyses and interpretation, and dissemination.

* Pinto, R. M., Spector, A. Y., & Valera, P. A. (2011). "Exploring group dynamics for integrating scientific and experiential knowledge in Community Advisory Boards for HIV research," in AIDS Care, 23, 1006-1013.

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