Researcher Receives $1 million for Tele-Health System

DANIEL A. SANTISTEBAN, PH.D., a clinical psychologist/research professor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, has been awarded a $1 million, two-year grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The grant funds the development and testing of an innovative tele-health system for delivering a culturally tailored mental health treatment developed by Santisteban and his colleagues.

“Children and adolescents with untreated mental health problems, such as depression, can quickly embark on a trajectory away from healthy development and productivity and toward family breakdowns, suicide, and incarceration,” Santisteban says. “Treatment must be creative, effective, and efficient, and therapists must be culturally competent if we are going to have a substantial impact on this most vulnerable population.”

Most behavioral treatments depend heavily on meetings in traditional office settings with regularly scheduled appointments, a system that tends to be unresponsive to the lives and needs of high-risk adolescents. This is especially true for minority youth and families who underuse health services.

“For adolescents in high-risk environments, life moves too fast to wait for a conversation scheduled later in the week,” argues Santisteban. “This new treatment will incorporate the use of web-enhanced technology such as iPhones to deliver interventions via videos and text messaging, at times and locations that are far removed from the traditional counseling office.”

For this study, the team headed by Drs. Daniel Santisteban and Maite Mena, Psy.D., will join forces with Dr. Sara Czaja and her University of Miami Center on Research and Education for Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE) team. This partnership promises to bring an extraordinary level of innovation to the adolescent behavioral treatment field.