Morgan Professor Payam Sheikhattari Awarded Grant under National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 02, 2013  Bookmark and Share

Dr. Payam Sheikhattari, Research Fellow at the Prevention Sciences Research Center and Associate Professor at the Morgan State University School of Community Health and Policy, has recently been awarded $1,393,568 for the project titled, "Dissemination and Implementation of the CEASE Intervention to Reduce Tobacco Use", funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) for three years to support the CEASE partnership and to help other community organizations adopt, implement, and disseminate the CEASE intervention and expand services to a larger group of disparity populations and increase the number of residents who quit smoking.

The CEASE Intervention aims to help participants quit smoking using a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach developed from a modified version of the American Cancer Society's FreshStart program. The intervention includes Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) as well as a Behavioral Contingency Modification program. The most unique and significant difference of this smoking cessation program is its delivery by community members, who we have denominated "Peer Motivators." They receive training on the FreshStart curriculum as well as motivational interviewing techniques and a protocol specifically designed for the CEASE intervention.   

In 2002, Morgan State and Johns Hopkins Universities, conducted a survey entitled "Community Health Urban Partnership (CHUP)," also known as the Exploring Health Disparities in Integrated Communities (EHDIC) study. The purpose of the survey was to collect data on individual and environmental variables of Baltimore City residents living in communities with equal proportions of Caucasians and African-Americans and high poverty indices. Data were collected from two census tracks where the racial distribution was 51% African American and 44% Caucasian and a median income or $24,000. According to the data, 69% and 49% of adult males and females, respectively, self-reported to be current regular smokers and they identified smoking as a high priority community problem. The results of the CHUP survey prompted a discussion between Morgan State University Prevention Sciences Research Center (PSRC) and the surveyed community, leading to a decade-long relationship. The local community and its academic partner focused on tobacco use as the first health issue that the partnership would address together. Data generated through the partnership indicated that cessation programs would be well received by the residents. However, data was needed on culturally relevant interventions that might work well in low-SES settings. As a result, a community-based partnership was established through a successful grant application supported by local stakeholders and funded by the NIMHD. The partnership sought to understand the underlying causes of higher smoking rates in the community and address this problem through rigorous research methodologies, such as randomized controlled trials and other qualitative and quantitative methods.    

In 2008, influential and motivated community leaders were recruited, through an iterative 'snowballing' process using input from community residents and organizations, onto a 12-member Community Advisory Board charged to establish the roles and relationships necessary to achieve the aims of the project. The Advisory Board eventually evolved into the Community Action Board (CAB). The CAB members defined a mission and a vision for the partnership through discussion and review of past experiences. As a result, the "Communities Engaged and Advocating for a Smoke-free Environment" Partnership and Initiative was born, with the acronym of CEASE. The CEASE Partnership follows CBPR principles, an effective approach to reduce health disparities. CBPR involves local stakeholders as the drivers of the research process; from problem-definition to intervention design, implementation, evaluation, refinement, and dissemination of the findings. Therefore, one of the strategic objectives of the CEASE Partnership was to develop, implement, and evaluate smoking cessation interventions through participatory and rigorous scientific methodologies. The process involved a cyclical, iterative process of relationship building, participatory planning, intervention design, implementation, and evaluation through randomized control trial methodology. As a result, the CEASE smoking cessation intervention was developed based on findings from two subsequent trials.  The intervention was first based in a local health clinic and provided by the healthcare providers. The second intervention moved into different community venues using peer-motivators to facilitate the group smoking cessation curriculum.  

Dr. Payam Sheikhattari will serve as the Principal Investigator (PI) of the study. He has MD and MPH from Uromia and Tehran Universities in Iran. He continued his study in public health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health through a Postdoctoral Fellowship. He is currently a tenured associate professor of public health at the MSU School of Community Health and Policy (SCHP). Dr. Sheikhattari has many years of experience in community-based health projects through his work with national and international organizations. He has been actively involved with the CEASE since its inception. Dr. Sheikhattari's research interest and experience center on smoking cessation, CBPR, and dissemination and translation research.   

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie classified Doctoral Research Institution offering more than 70 academic programs leading to bachelors degrees as well as programs at the masters and doctoral levels. As Maryland's Public Urban Research University, Morgan serves a multi-ethnic and multi-racial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information on Morgan State University, visit

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