Research Team Led by Dr. Willy Prado Receives Award for Hemispheric Public Health Work

A Miller School research team led by Guillermo “Willy” Prado, Ph.D., Miller Professor of Public Health Sciences, Director of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health, and Dean of the Graduate School, has received the 2016 International Collaborative Preventive Research Award.

The award, which was presented in San Francisco on June 2 at the annual meeting of the Society for Prevention Research, was given to the researchers for their hemispheric public health work with the Miller School-developed Familias Unidas program, which is currently being implemented and evaluated in Chile and Ecuador.

“Familias Unidas is a family-based intervention program for Hispanic families with children aged 12 to 17,” said Prado. “It was designed to prevent conduct disorders, risky sexual behaviors, and the use of illicit drugs, alcohol and cigarettes by increasing parental involvement, improving parent-adolescent communication and promoting academic achievement. The culturally sensitive program is built on the theory that adolescent problems can be fixed at home by capitalizing on the strong ties for which Hispanic families are known.”

Familias Unidas was first developed 15 years ago. The program was fine-tuned in Miami through rigorous clinical trials and introduced into 24 Miami-Dade County middle schools in 2010. It has since been adopted in other locations in the U.S.

“We are very pleased and proud to receive the award, which was given specifically for our international work,” said Prado. “Two years ago, we began to expand Familias Unidas internationally when we could document that we were reducing risky behaviors in the Hispanic adolescent population. Our goal is to disseminate it throughout Latin America in the coming years, which fits nicely with University of Miami President Julio Frenk’s plan to make UM a hemispheric university.”

About 18 months ago, Prado’s team began disseminating Familias Unidas in Ecuador and Chile through two partner organizations – Catholic University of Guayaquil and San Carlos de Maipo Foundation in Santiago.

“We collaborated with our partners to determine if the program needed to be adapted within their cultural contexts,” said Prado. “If any changes were necessary, we made them together. Our partners then conducted evaluations and each formally adapted the program. So far, they have been using what we taught them. We did some mentoring, but they took the lead.”

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