OHSU Receives $6.5 Million to Fund Studies on the Health of Adolescents and Firefighters

05/10/99    Portland, Ore.

Another $3.6 million is expected later this year, bringing the total to $10 million.

Oregon Health Sciences University's Division of Health Promotion and Sports Medicine in the School of Medicine just received grants totaling nearly $6.5 million with another $3.6 million expected later this year. The grants will fund studies to improve the health of adolescents and firefighters. The three new studies will look at enhancing the exercise and nutrition of firefighters, preventing eating disorders and drug use among adolescent female athletes, and drug testing of high school athletes. Funding for these studies is being provided by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The principal investigators of the studies will be Linn Goldberg, M.D., professor of medicine, School of Medicine, and head of the Division of Health Promotion and Sports Medicine, and Diane Elliot, M.D., professor of medicine, SM.

The first study funded by the NIAMSD titled Promoting Healthy Lifestyles: Alternate Models' Effect (PHLAME) is a four-year program with a $1.8 million grant to enhance the exercise and nutrition of firefighters. PHLAME will be done in conjunction with Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research and will compare two intervention methods - a teamwork approach and an individualized approach.

"We know what behaviors keep you healthy. The challenge is learning how to make those behaviors part of our lifestyle," says Elliot.

"Although we are comparing two approaches for helping firefighters to reduce their risk of heart disease, findings from this study will be helpful for many other groups," said Victor Stevens, Ph.D., assistant director for epidemiology and disease prevention at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.

The second grant funded by the NIDA, in the amount of $4.5 million, is for a five-year study called Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise & Nutrition Alternatives (ATHENA). It will attempt to prevent disordered eating and drug use among adolescent female athletes.

"Research is showing that gender is an important consideration in designing programs to prevent drug abuse and to treat addiction," said Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., director of the NIDA. "It's hoped that the ATHENA study will help us develop effective programs for teenage girls."

"We think part of the reason most drug prevention programs don't work in high school is because they're not gender-specific," said Elliot. "Girls will have different reasons for these behaviors than boys do. By targeting these reasons, you're in a better position to address the risk factors and promote protective factors for drug abuse and eating disorders."

ATHENA is similar to OHSU's previous ATLAS study, also funded by the NIDA, that focused on adolescent male athletes.

"With ATLAS, we found that we could reduce drug use, drinking and driving among adolescent male athletes," said Goldberg. "We also were able to enhance their nutrition and exercise behaviors."

OHSU has applied to the NIDA for a third grant for $3.6 million. Funding on this is expected later this year. The study will be called Student Athlete Testing Using Random Notification (SATURN) and will examine the effectiveness of random, unannounced drug testing among high school athletes.

The PHLAME study is expected to begin in January 2000, ATHENA and a pilot of the SATURN project are planned to start during the 1999 - 2000 school year.

Note to Editors: To arrange interviews with Drs. Goldberg and Elliot, please call Christine Long or Martin Munguia at (503) 494-8231. To interview Victor Stevens, Ph.D., please call Jim Gersbach at (503) 813-4820