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Dr. Amy Smith Receives Funding to Study How Parent-Child Engagement During Music Enrichment Classes Relate to Early Indicators of Long-Term Health Risk


Dr. Amy Smith Receives Funding to Study How Parent-Child Engagement During Music Enrichment Classes Relate to Early Indicators of Long-Term Health Risk

Amy Smith, PhD, MT-BC, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Health Services and Outcomes Research, recently received a two-year, Post-doctoral Career Development (TL1 Post-doctoral Program) award from the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences) via a Frontiers CTSI subaward.

The funding will provide Dr. Smith’s post-doctoral salary stipend, as well as $12,200 in research funds for each year of the award.

Dr. Smith will use the funding on her project “The impact of a music enrichment program on health and developmental outcomes during early childhood”. The project follows early results from a randomized controlled trial funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development to Kai Ling Kong, PhD, MS, the PI of the Baby Health Behavior Lab in which Dr. Smith is a part of. Dr. Kong also serves as the mentor on this project.

This study found that parent-child pairings in a music enrichment program had improvement on the pair’s interactions compared with a playdate control. Because high-quality parent-child interactions are known to have a positive impact on both obesity prevention and language development, the lab’s recent findings suggest that music enrichment programs may serve as a valuable multi-target intervention to improve childhood health and developmental outcomes, via enhanced parent-child interactions.

The primary objective of the current study is to understand how parent-child joint engagement is related to early indicators of long-term health risk. This study will expand upon previous findings of parent-child interactions and health and developmental-related outcomes over a one-year period.

A secondary objective of the study will also focus on understanding how families from low-socioeconomic and marginalized communities engage with music in their families to increase cultural sensitivity within music interventions. As Dr. Smith explains, ”overweight/obesity and language delay disproportionately effect children from these backgrounds. There is a critical need to understand the acceptability and feasibility of music enrichment programs among low-socioeconomic families to increase reach and accessibility.”

Though music enrichment programs are a part of many communities, cost and location may prevent these programs from consistently reaching low-socioeconomic families.

“Previous research including low-socioeconomic parents who participated in a music enrichment program reported high levels of satisfaction and feeling closer to their child, yet low attendance and lack of program completion limited the direct benefits of this program to the families,” Dr. Smith explains.

Dr. Smith’s long-term career goal is to investigate the impact of music interventions on childhood health and developmental disparities.

The Post-doctoral Career Development (TL1 Post-doctoral Program) is provided by Frontiers Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI). It provides 1- or 2-years of protected time for recent graduates of doctoral programs or clinical fellowships or residencies. This award provides trainees with the additional skills, mentoring and research experience needed to launch a career in translational research.