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The Closing Digital Divide: Delivery Modality and Family Attendance in the Pathways for African American Success (PAAS) Program

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Although family-focused, evidence-based programs (EBPs) have the potential to reduce disparities in health and behavioral outcomes for youth, access to such programs is severely limited in the most affected areas, including African American communities in the rural South. As expanding the reach of EBPs is the primary goal of translational research, interest is growing in the potential of technology as a viable platform to disseminate services to areas with limited resources. To test whether African American families in the rural South would be willing to engage in a technology-based family-focused EBP to prevent adolescent risk behavior, we examined attendance using data from two arms of a three-arm community-based trial of the Pathways for African American Success (PAAS) program. In the overall study, sixth graders (N = 412) and their primary caregivers were randomly assigned to the following conditions: (a) in-person, small group sessions led by facilitators; (b) self-directed, technology-based sessions; or (c) a literature control with home-mailed educational materials. Results indicated that attendance was higher in the technology condition than in the small group condition. Parental age, education, and socioeconomic status did not limit attendance in the technology condition. We conclude from these results that the use of technology can be an acceptable strategy for disseminating parenting EBPs to African American families in the rural South.

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The authors gratefully thank Eryn Block and Misha Innis-Thompson for their editorial assistance, and Susan Paul and her technology team, Symbolene Systems, Inc., community research staff, families, and community partners who have assisted with and participated in the study.


Support was provided by MH063043 (PI: Murry).

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Correspondence to Velma McBride Murry.

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Conflict of Interest

Murry is the developer of PAAS. Berkel and Liu declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were approved by the Vanderbilt University IRB and were in accordance with the ethical standards of the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Murry, V.M., Berkel, C. & Liu, N. The Closing Digital Divide: Delivery Modality and Family Attendance in the Pathways for African American Success (PAAS) Program. Prev Sci 19, 642–651 (2018).

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