story by Homma Rafi
Director of Communications, School of Public Health
ATLANTA—The National Cancer Institute has awarded Georgia State University’s School of Public Health a five-year, $3.5 million grant to help eliminate child secondhand smoke exposure and reduce cancer disparities in homes involved with the child protection system.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers. Of the 7,000 chemicals contained in secondhand smoke, 70 can cause cancer. Related health problems in infants and children include severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
“Children who have been maltreated are often living in poverty and are at significant risk for secondhand smoke exposure and related health conditions,” said Dr. Shannon Self-Brown, a multiple principal investigator of the project and co-director of the National SafeCare® Training & Research Center in the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development.
In recent research examining SafeCare®, the team learned that 68 percent of the program’s parents who are involved with child protective services report daily tobacco use.
The research team will examine the health impact of integrating two evidence-based programs on young children and families involved with child protection services. Some Things are Better Outside, a secondhand smoke prevention program, will be integrated into SafeCare®, a child maltreatment prevention program delivered to families involved with child protection services in more than 20 states. The National SafeCare® Training & Research Center is the purveyor of the SafeCare program. The combined program will be known as Smoke-Free SafeCare®.
If successful, Smoke-Free SafeCare® will be disseminated broadly to accredited SafeCare® agencies that serve parents across the United States and abroad who are involved with child protection services, with the goals of eliminating child maltreatment and reducing cancer risk and disparities for this high-risk population.
“This is an innovative proposal targeting two very important public health issues, violence against children and secondhand smoke exposure,” said Dr. Self-Brown, a child abuse prevention expert and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Public Health. “Preventing both of these public health issues will dramatically reduce the related health risks and associated costs in the short-term and long-term, and importantly, directly target cancer prevention and disparities. Our ultimate goal with this work is to eliminate smoking in the home and the related deleterious impacts for these young vulnerable children.”
Dr. Michelle Kegler, a multiple principal investigator on the project, is a public health professor, director of Intervention Development at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, and developer of the Some Things are Better Outside program. The co-investigators of the project are Dr. Daniel Whitaker, Distinguished University Professor and co-director of the National SafeCare® Training & Research Center; Dr. Claire Spears, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences; Dr. Jidong Huang, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences; and Dr. Regine Haardoerfer, research associate professor in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.
Chair and Professor, Department of Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences
Co-Director, National SafeCare Training and Research Center
School of Public Health
Dr. Shannon Self-Brown’s research focuses on child maltreatment prevention, behavioral parenting intervention, youth trauma intervention, and implementation science. Her research has been funded by NIH, NCTSN, CDC, PCORI, and several foundations. Dr. Self-Brown has more than 70 peer-reviewed publications focusing on the impact of youth violence, trauma, and disaster exposure on youth mental health, as well as the implementation of evidence-based behavioral parenting programs and mental health practices for traumatized youth.