For almost 25 years, SIG has been committed to creating sustainable solutions for improving health and well-being for the most vulnerable populations in the greater New York City area. SIG is currently engaged in two projects, PACT and Connect n’ Unite.
Connect ‘n Unite is a federally funded HIV/STI prevention study for African American/Black men and their same-sex partners. This research will address the overrepresentation of Blacks/African Americans among those living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. as well as men who have sex with men (MSM), the transmission category that accounts for the majority of HIV infections. The study will recruit 240 Black MSM couples that have a recent history of stimulant use and engage in high-risk sexual behaviors. These couples will be randomly assigned to receive an HIV risk reduction intervention versus a control condition, consisting of a general health promotion intervention that targets other prominent health concerns among Black men (e.g., diabetes, cancer, hypertension, stress).
The study was recently funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and will rigorously evaluate the implementation, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a 4-session, couple-based intervention targeting approximately 240 men and their female partners (480 participants in total). The study will be carried out by the Social Intervention Group (SIG) at Columbia University School of Social Work in collaboration with the Center for Court Innovation and the New York City Department of Probation.
Project E-WORTH is a 5-week program for African-American women on probation.
E-WORTH stands for Empowering African-American Women on the Road to Health and as such, Project E-WORTH aims to support to justice involved women to live their healthiest lives. Along the “road to health”, women who participate in E-WORTH will learn about factors that significantly increase the risk of African-American women for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Participants will learn about the ways in which factors like substance abuse and intimate partner violence makes it much harder for African-American women on probation to protect themselves, their families and loved ones, and the communities in which they live. During the 5-week group, participants are introduced to 5 fictionalized characters of E-WORTH who tackle important life-issues and in so doing so, learn about the ways in which they successfully negotiate critical barriers to health. E-WORTH partners will use both a tablet and participate in small groups as they take this critical journey towards health.
“Connecting Communities and Closing Gaps”
Convened by Columbia University’s Social Intervention Group (SIG) in 2015, the Community Collaborative Research Network is a partnership between the Social Intervention Group, community corrections personnel, various social service provider agencies and men and women who have been in the justice system. Its mission is to strengthen community-researcher collaboration through training, education, research, and advocacy in order to inform and shape evidence-based, sustainable solutions to enable individuals, families, and communities to address HIV, violence, substance use, mental health, and other co-occurring issues.
Network members currently include former participants in SIG’s research studies, representatives from the Department of Probation, social service providers such as Fortune Society and the Family Center, and representatives from other relevant NYC government agencies such as the Administration for Children and Families, Health + Hospitals, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The Community Collaborative Research (CCRN) provides an important space in which members share information and coordinate efforts related to the health and overall well-being of individuals and communities who have been directly involved in the justice system. With a vision to “connect communities and close gaps,” the CCRN also informs the implementation and dissemination strategies of SIG’s research related to justice-involved populations including Project PACT and Project E-WORTH. Project PACT is a study that evaluates the effectiveness drug abuse prevention intervention for men under community supervision and their female partners. E-WORTH is a study that evaluates the effectiveness of an HIV risk reduction intervention for African American women on probation.