Patrice Saab is a researcher the University of Miami’s Department of Psychology. Her research interests center on factors contributing to cardiovascular risk and on prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Her work in prevention includes involvement in two major multicenter trials, the ENRICHD trial and the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). In addition, she has extended her work with adolescents with elevated blood pressure by conducting a randomized controlled trial to improve lifestyle (related to nutrition, physical activity, and stress management) as well as lower blood pressure. The analyses indicated that a brief 1-session intervention that required parental involvement was more effective than the longer group-based interventions emphasizing adolescent self-management in lowering blood pressure.
This finding stimulated my current interest in brief interventions for youth as well as her interest in ‘translating’ the intervention to a field setting. In February 2010, she began data collection for a randomized controlled trial comparing a brief and novel intervention on cardiovascular health knowledge, readiness for behavior change, self-efficacy for behavior change, and behavior (pertaining to nutrition, physical activity, and stress management) in high school students. The centerpiece of the intervention is the ‘Heart Smart’ bilingual (English and Spanish) interactive exhibit that her collaborators at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science and I have developed. The study investigates the extent that a museum-based health exhibit can lead to improved health-related outcomes and address a primary prevention need. This collaboration lead to GROOVE: Girls Realizing Options through OpenSim Virtual Experiences, a randomized control trial, conducted at the Museum that investigates the use of virtual technology to increase middle school girls’ awareness of exercise and nutrition.
I conceptualize the exhibit as a community-based intervention that enhances health literacy and educates general museum visitors about the impact of behavioral choices (related to nutrition, physical activity, and stress) on heart health in a relaxed and nonthreatening setting. The exhibit extends my reach, as an investigator to more individuals than would be feasible in a laboratory-based study. A unique feature of the exhibit is that it also invites visitors to anonymously contribute their data on body mass index, blood pressure, waist circumference, and self-reported health habits to the exhibit database through a series of interactives.