California State University, Long Beach
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Behavioral Research and Services
Receives $200K for Two Studies

CSULB’s Center for Behavioral Research and Services (CBRS) recently received a pair of grants worth almost $200,000 through the College of Liberal Arts.

A $104,909 per year contract from the Substance Abuse Foundation Inc. (SAF) funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), joins with $94,506 per year from Behavioral Assessment Inc. (BAI) who was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health to help sustain the center’s record of community service.

Led by director Dennis Fisher and Health Care Administration’s Grace Reynolds, the center will use the money from the first grant to assess treatment for those who suffer a combination of substance abuse and mental disorders and who are HIV/AIDS positive, while the second will help measure the stress experienced by Latino adolescents. Postdoctoral scholar Lucy Napper is also participating in the research.

“The first grant is a benefit to the community because it allows SAF to provide all the services needed under one umbrella,” said Reynolds. “There is access to psychiatric care, help for substance abuse and HIV research offered under one roof. It is our responsibility to evaluate how having all that under one roof actually works out.”

The second grant seeks to help measure the stress experience by Latino adolescents.

“This grant ties into CSULB’s role as a Hispanic-serving institution,” said Fisher. “We will do data entry, data cleaning and some data collection, as well as some analysis and writing.”

Fisher agreed there are major benefits to the university through center’s grant-funded work.

“The SAMSHA project really establishes us as the go-to organization in the local community for research and evaluation services,” he said. “That is a role we have been trying to step into more and more. Not only does the center have the funding to support our work, but we have the opportunity to be partners with Behavioral Assessment Inc., Harvard University and the Gallup Organization. It is a good opportunity to put CSULB in an arena with players with national reputations.”

“We’re a very stable provider,” said Reynolds. “The city often calls on us to provide research and data analysis as well as to give presentations before various organizations.”

Reynolds also pointed with pride to the center’s staff. “We are experts in statistics and analysis,” she said. “The center collects data from every client who walks in the door. For instance, the city recently asked us to interview 30 methamphetamine users, but we exceeded that by more than their wildest dreams. We contacted and obtained data from 128 methamphetamine users. It was such a huge success that it surprised even them.”

Reynolds believes the center’s reputation will continue to grow. “With support like this, we have the opportunity to become a huge player nationally in terms of substance abuse and mental health funding. This is our opportunity to engage with a whole new population.”

The center is a multi-function unit of the university dedicated to psychosocial research and services related to community health and social problems. Establishment of this unit was prompted by the 1993 merger of the CSULB-based AIDS Research and Education Project and the Long Beach AIDS Network, a community-based HIV service organization originally founded by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services.

The center conducts social and behavioral research on health and substance-use related issues. The focus of these studies has been on HIV risk, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and understanding tobacco use among young people. CBRS also operates programs to reduce HIV risk in historically under-served populations.

Its research and service projects include a counseling and food program funded by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, an effort at early detection of HIV/AIDS in women from the greater Los Angeles region funded by the California Community Foundation and a methamphetamine prevention demonstration funded by the Los Angeles County office of AIDS Programs and Policy.

The CBRS employs approximately 20 individuals and conducts most of its activities in the Long Beach and South Bay areas, although it has participated in or conducted national and international programs. The CBRS also operates a mobile unit that brings HIV testing and counseling and immune assessment services to drug users both in and out of treatment, visiting drug treatment programs and neighborhoods with a high prevalence of drug abuse, alcoholism, and homelessness.