New Study Brings Healthy Lifestyle Intervention to Underserved Clients in Two Cities

November 21, 2014 @ 10:39 pm

underserved client

Associate Professor Leopoldo J. Cabassa has been awarded an R01 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (1R01MH104574-01) to conduct a clinical effectiveness-implementation trial of a peer-led healthy lifestyle intervention for clients who have mental illness and are overweight or obese, and therefore at risk for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Under Dr. Cabassa’s leadership, the study team will enroll 300 clients from two supporting housing agencies:

  1. Federation Employment and Guidance Service (FEGS), in New York City.
  2. Pathways to Housing (PTH PA), in Philadephia.

The clients will be randomly assigned to either a peer-led, healthy lifestyle intervention or the usual care conditions. Clients in the former group will be led by specially trained and supervised peer-specialists at each agency through a curriculum known as Group Lifestyle Balance™ (GLB). Peer specialists in this project are people who use their lived experiences of recovery from mental illness plus skills learned in formal training to deliver services that promote recovery, wellness, and resiliency.

Adapted from the successful lifestyle intervention used in the Diabetes Prevention Program, GLB involves intensive training in diet, exercise, and behavior modification, a regimen that has been shown to help people achieve a clinically significant weight loss of at least 5 percent.

Dr, Cabassa's research team will assess each group of clients at the beginning of the trial and at 6, 12, and 18 months, measuring weight, waist circumference and blood pressure, and also looking for significant improvements in physical activity, self-efficacy, recovery, and health-related quality of life.

The study brings together a multidisciplinary team of investigators from the Columbia School of Social Work, Columbia University Medical Center, and the New York State Hospital, along with representatives from FEGS and PTH PA.

Professor Allen Zweben, who serves as Senior Associate Dean at the Columbia School of Social Work, said: “Dr. Cabassa has been involved in landmark research bridging the fields of implementation science and health disparities. That his latest project, focusing on helping people with serious mental illness improve their diet and exercise to prevent and delay cardiovascular disease and other chronic medical conditions, has received multiple years of funding from NIMH speaks to the progress he is making on behalf of underserved populations with serious health needs.”

Photo credit: TONY,jpg, uploaded by BBoomerinDenial in 2012 to morgueFile (see morgueFile license).