Empowering Navajo Adolescents

Communication and Journalism 
Virginia McDermott
John Oetzel
Geographic Area Served

Tribal / Reservation
Project Description
This project proposes to develop and test a Manual of Procedures (MOP) for a school-based intervention for preventing, decreasing, or delaying substance use by AI (specifically Navajo) adolescents. Specifically, this intervention focuses on universal prevention of substance use by training high school juniors as health advocates to deliver culturally appropriate health messages using communication campaigns (audiovisual, brochures, and speaking) to younger peers (i.e., high school freshmen). The manual created from this process (including adapting previously used prevention modules) will be used to empower freshmen by addressing personal (e.g., normative beliefs and self-efficacy), interpersonal (e.g., refusal skills and social support skills) and political empowerment (e.g., advocating for change in the school or community) about substance use.

The proposed project has several scientific and social benefits. First, the project will make a contribution to the scientific literature by providing empirical evidence of empowerment skills as risk and protective factors for substance use by AI adolescents, which has not been fully examined previously (especially political advocacy skills). In this manner, the proposed study has the potential for increasing understanding why the health disparity in substance use exists for this population. Second, and more importantly, the development of the intervention will attempt to address this health disparity.

This project will address three specific aims:
1.To identify the degree to which personal, interpersonal, and political empowerment are risk/protective factors of substance use for Navajo adolescents.
2.To develop a manual for training Navajo adolescents how to utilize communication campaigns to prevent, decrease, or delay substance use by their peers.
3.To test the efficacy of the intervention in terms of enhancing personal, interpersonal, and political empowerment and reducing, delaying, or preventing substance use.
Randomly selected schools and randomly selected classes
Contact Information:
Location Mailing Address
UNM Main Campus
Department of Communication and Journalism
Office 222
 UNM Main Campus
MSC 03 2240
Email Telephone
Virginia McDermott ginnymcd@unm.edu
John Oetzel joetzel@unm.edu
Virginia McDermott 502-277-5999
John Oetzel joetzel@unm.edu

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