South Kingstown, RI. (May 21, 2014) – The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health has awarded a five-year research project grant (R01) to study the effect of disease prevention counseling delivered via telemedicine within rural villages in the Bristol Bay Area of Alaska. Participants will be Alaska Native men and women who smoke cigarettes and have at least one additional cardiovascular disease risk factor (e.g., inactivity, overweight status, hypertension, high cholesterol) or established vascular disease. The study aims to meet Alaska Native health needs and values. It targets 5 of the American Heart Association’s 7 Strategic Impact Goals for 2020. The primary outcomes are increased tobacco abstinence and physical activity. An active comparison group targets control of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia through medication adherence and dietary change.

The health counseling is guided utilizing Pro-Change’s award-winning computer tailored interventions, which will be customized and hosted for the Alaska Native population. Stage-matched print manuals will also be used as behavior change tools.

The grant is informed by fieldwork over the past six years in rural Alaska, continued community partnerships with the tribes, and ethnographic research. The grant combines technology, pharmacology, behavioral science, and health economics for advancing the health of Alaska Native people who face significant health disparities with limited access to interventions given their isolated geographics.

The grant is a collaboration with Stanford University, the Alaska Native Medical Center, the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation, the University of California San Francisco, the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Pro-Change Behavior Systems, Inc.