When University of Arizona College of Nursing Professor Judith S. Gordon, PhD, helped develop Click City: Tobacco, a landmark online tobacco prevention program developed and implemented in Oregon public schools from 2005-2012, she had no way of knowing the threat of e-cigarettes was just over the horizon.
The first version of Click City: Tobacco was a huge success with students, teachers and parents, who enjoyed it for its fun, game-based delivery but also appreciated its educational effectiveness.
Now, thanks to a $225,000 National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, Dr. Gordon and Principal Investigator Judy A. Andrews, PhD, of the Oregon Research Institute will update the online program’s curriculum to address the hazards of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Devices (ENDS), better known as e-cigarettes.
In keeping with the College’s focus on harnessing technological innovation, the enhancement also will increase the self-contained online educational program’s potential reach by expanding the types of devices through which it can be delivered.
The first version of Click City: Tobacco was based on a methodical, analytical approach to creating and testing the nicotine use prevention program. While other programs create a curriculum comprised of various components that have not necessarily been fully tested before dissemination, Dr. Gordon’s team painstakingly tested each element of the program. “We used an approach based on optimized designs where we developed each component and then tested it individually to make sure it was effective before it was included in the final program,” she said.
The new and improved version of Click City: Tobacco will involve the same methodology to expand the program to include content about the risks posed by e-cigarette use. “The e-cigarette phenomenon has really taken off since we originally developed this program. Now kids are much more likely to use e-cigarettes than they are to use traditional cigarettes,” explained Dr. Gordon. “We also need to reprogram Click City: Tobacco so that it works on multiple devices that didn’t exist when we first designed it.”
The updates are designed to inform students of the risk factors around e-cigarettes, which ultimately will lead to changed perceptions of the devices, she said. “Right now, kids think there’s no risk in using e-cigarettes, so we want to make sure they understand the dangers involved, not only now but in the future. We want to teach them what e-cigarettes are, and change their perceptions of the device. For example, they don’t even know there’s such a thing as second-hand vapor,” said Dr. Gordon.
Dr. Gordon believes that the evidence-based methodology her team is using to create and evaluate the new Click City: Tobacco will lead to a scientifically sound and effective product. Also, since the program is a completely autonomous educational tool, all a teacher has to do is set the students up with the program. “Our program is ‘plug and play,’” said Dr. Gordon. “The intervention gets delivered with complete fidelity because it’s delivered the same way every single time. It also generates reports so teachers can see how well a student is doing.”
The SBIR grant is meant to promote collaboration between researchers and small business developers, will enable her team to create a product that will be easily disseminated across the country. “The goal is to develop and create products that have an evidence base,” said Dr. Gordon. “So instead of businesses selling products that don’t work and academics and researchers creating effective programs that nobody ever uses, the government has created a mechanism that speeds this collaboration and creates a conduit for the commercialization of effective products.”
About the University of Arizona College of Nursing
Established in 1957, for 60 years the UA College of Nursing has been transforming nursing education, research and practice to help people build better futures. Consistently ranked among the best programs in the nation, the college is strengthening health care’s largest workforce and the public’s most trusted profession through its undergraduate and graduate programs, offered online and on-campus in Tucson and Phoenix. Headquartered in Tucson, Ariz., where integrative health has been pioneered, the UA College of Nursing is home to the world’s only Integrative Nursing Faculty Fellowship. With key focal strengths in integrative health, cancer prevention and survivorship, and nursing informatics, the college has more than 7,000 alumni worldwide promoting health and wellness in their workplaces and communities. For more information: www.nursing.arizona.edu
About the Small Business Innovation Research Program
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation's R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs. For more information: https://www.sbir.gov/#