The Fogarty International Center has recognized the need for collaborative research training programs between the U.S. and institutions in low and middle income countries that focus on chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD). In response to PAR 10-257, NCD Lifespan Award and the South African Governmental Report, Revitalizing Clinical Research, which calls for the training of master’s-level students to improve their capacity to conduct addiction mental health research and provide additional clinical services, we propose to develop the Tirisano Training Project, or TTP (Tirisano means “working together” in Tswana). A collaborative training program between UCLA and several South African Universities and Institutions including faculty from the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of Stellenbosch, the Human Sciences Research Council, and North West University will increase the clinical and research skills of South African post-bachelor, master’s and doctoral-level students and early career mental health professionals.
Expanding upon the infrastructure and lessons learned from our Fogarty-funded Phodiso trauma and health disparities research training program for South Africa scholars, TTP focuses on chronic stress and non-communicable chronic mental health disorders including substance abuse, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) across the life course. TTP addresses the dearth of South African researchers by targeting the “pipeline” challenge and training scholars at diverse points of the academic career path. Guided by a multi-dimensional conceptual model of risks and resilience resources over the lifespan, trainees will be provided the tools to develop and test novel models and methods to implement effective substance abuse and mental health interventions within the South African context.
The Specific Aims are to:
- Implement a short-, medium-, and long-term multidisciplinary training program at UCLA and in South Africa for master’s and doctoral-level students and early career mental health professionals drawn from clinical staff working in nursing, social work, psychiatry and public health to enhance their knowledge and skills in the areas of chronic stress and non-communicable chronic mental health disorders (Track A Scholars; cumulative n=16);
- Implement a short-term multidisciplinary training program in South Africa for post-bachelor, master’s and doctoral-level students in nursing, social work, and public health to enhance their knowledge and skills in the area of chronic stress and non-communicable chronic mental health disorders (Track B Scholars; cumulative n=100);
- Evaluate the TTP processes, including the mentoring, research skills, and career support provided, as well as the career trajectories and accomplishments of the Track A Scholars over 10 years; and
- Assess the sustainability and integration of TTP into academic, private, and government agencies that provide substance abuse and mental health research and services. Future goals will include encouraging the South African government to support, endorse, and adopt TTP as a successful and replicable model of cross-cultural clinical research training.