Some past pilot studies have matured into core research projects of the PHH-PRC, described elsewhere on this website. In addition, the PHH-PRC has served as an incubator for two important research initiatives that have come to maturity outside the Center. A PHH-PRC pilot study assessed the feasibility of a smoking cessation program at a single housing development, using Resident Health Advocates who had received additional training to serve as Tobacco Treatment Advocates. The pilot showed that it was feasible to implement such a program, that the program was well accepted by participants, and that researchers and community members were able to develop a good working partnership. On the basis of the pilot study, the principal investigator received a five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to conduct a trial to establish whether the use of Tobacco Treatment Advocates can increase public housing residents’ use of smoking cessation treatments, as well as the likelihood that they will quit smoking.
Similarly, the PHH-PRC has supported the Center for Research to Evaluate and Eliminate Dental Disparities, which is housed in the Boston University School of Dental Medicine, in developing the dental health intervention project now underway in Boston’s family housing developments. For this project, public housing residents previously trained as Resident Health Advocates in the PHH-PRC have received additional training to become Oral Health Advocates. The study tests whether Oral Health Advocates, by teaching about dental hygiene and encouraging residents to bring children in for repeated varnish applications, can reduce the incidence of cavities in young children.
The next generation of pilot studies is currently underway. This year’s pilot projects include: a trial of a physical fitness program for senior residents, a community gardening project designed to promote healthy eating from the ground up, a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Oral Health Office to increase attendance at oral health screenings in the senior developments, and a Boston Public Health Commission project examining the link between place, access and nutrition using focus groups. To read more about this year’s pilot projects, please click here.