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Dr. Frank T. Materia Awarded American Diabetes Association Nutrition and Diabetes Postdoctoral Fellowship To Better Understand African Americans’ Adoption of Mobile Health Methods To Prevent T2D

STORIES

Dr. Frank T. Materia Awarded American Diabetes Association Nutrition and Diabetes Postdoctoral Fellowship To Better Understand African Americans’ Adoption of Mobile Health Methods To Prevent T2D

Headshot of Frank Materia, PhD, MHS
Frank Materia, PhD, MHS
Post Doctoral Research Faculty
Full Biography

Frank T. Materia, PhD, Post Doctoral Research Scholar, Health Services and Outcomes Research, was awarded a 3-year $195,396 Postdoctoral Fellowship Award from the American Diabetes Association, as well as a 1-year $20,000 Diversity Supplement Award from the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles and Nutrition. Dr. Materia’s project is titled, “Understanding African Americans' adoption and engagement with mobile health for lifestyle modification to prevent type 2 diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and African Americans (AAs) are 60 percent more likely to develop T2D compared to whites. Research shows that programs encouraging healthy lifestyle changes (e.g., healthier eating, increased physical activity) can prevent T2D. However, these programs often require in-person meetings which presents many AAs with attendance-related difficulties (e.g., transportation issues, costs, time). Delivering these programs via mobile technology, like smartphones, is one potential solution because it is affordable, convenient, and most AAs across age groups own devices.

Yet, according to Dr. Materia, AA adults and at-risk adolescents have generally not adopted mobile lifestyle programs enough to begin to reduce overall T2D risk. One reason is that most mobile programs have not been developed to support AAs’ needs and preferences. Little research has explored which factors influence whether AAs start, and continue, using these technologies to prevent diabetes, and how these factors may differ between adult and adolescent populations.

This project will address this gap by using scientific theory to examine the factors and beliefs that affect how AAs use mobile technology to support healthy lifestyles. Separate adult and adolescent focus groups will be conducted to understand the barriers and perceptions held by AAs about participating with these programs via technology. Then, Dr. Materia and his team will conduct a study to determine which of the reported barriers and perceptions most greatly influence AA adults’ and adolescents’ use of freely-offered smartphone-based resources encouraging healthy physical activity. These findings will help in developing science-based recommendations for designing mobile lifestyle programs tailored to the needs and preferences of AAs for preventing T2D.

“The goal is to identify person-centered, yet scalable, technology-based health behavior change interventions with the greatest potential for adoption and maintenance of diabetes-preventing or diabetes-mitigating lifestyles by individuals at greatest risk,” said Dr. Materia.

Dr. Materia’s mentorship team includes Delwyn Catley, PhD, Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles and Nutrition (primary mentor); Kathy Goggin, PhD, Health Services and Outcomes Research (co-mentor), Jannette Berkley-Patton, PhD, UMKC Biomedical and Health Informatics (co-mentor), and Jordan Carlson, PhD, Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles and Nutrition (co-mentor).