HOUSTON — The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's popular web-based teen prevention and smoking-cessation program, ASPIRE (A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience), now speaks Spanish.
The 10-year-old program advances the institution's national commitment to help prevent teens from smoking or help them quit before it becomes a lifelong addiction. ASPIRE is an evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation website for middle and high school students. It was developed by a research team led by Alexander V. Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson. The site integrates interactive media, customized messages, graphics, animations and streaming videos.
"The potential number of youth this program has the ability to reach and educate on the dangers of smoking is phenomenal," said Prokhorov.
"We've found that participating students are more aware about the dangers of smoking, are making more informed decisions about smoking and are less tempted to start in the first place," Prokhorov said. "Removing the language barrier will help tremendously in reaching and educating Hispanic teens, especially those experiencing difficulties with English comprehension."
The Spanish version of ASPIRE includes three portals designed for the student, administrator and the curious user interested in exploring the online interactive program. Each module contains testimonials from peers, doctors, smokers and non-smokers. Health information, tips and resources, and intervention methods for those wanting to quit are also available. Similar to the original version, the Spanish curriculum includes the ability for users to become an ASPIRE graduate and earn a certificate of completion. Currently the program has 21 states enrolled and more than 6,000 users have accessed the program since inception.
"The program has really evolved over the years, and we expect that the new Spanish version will be successful in increasing our reach to Hispanic teens," said Lauren McCoy, MD Anderson's program manager of ASPIRE. "We've seen steady growth of institutions, schools and organizations incorporating ASPIRE in their programs."
According to the National Health Interview Survey, almost 20 percent of Hispanic high school students smoke. Research shows smoking and the use of tobacco products typically starts at a young age and contributes greatly to the risk of developing cancer. Through the Spanish version of ASPIRE, teens and adults can learn more about the many harmful effects of tobacco, how to help educate their peers and how to prevent themselves from becoming a cancer statistic.
Prokhorov, an expert on the subject of teen nicotine dependence and the effects of tobacco use on teen health, was recently selected as the recipient of the Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award for Excellence in Tobacco Research. The award, given by the American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO), recognizes distinguished leaders in tobacco control, research, prevention and program development that broadly affect public health through policy and innovative initiatives. He also serves as chair of ASPO's Tobacco Special Interest Group.
Prokhorov is director of e-Health Technology, a program funded by the Duncan Family Institute for Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment at MD Anderson that works with scientists to integrate technology into research projects that help people adopt healthier lifestyles.
ASPIRE, now funded by the Tobacco Settlement Funds to the State of Texas, will continue to be a free resource to school districts, state health departments, teachers and parents nationwide.
About MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. MD Anderson is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For seven of the past nine years, including 2010, MD Anderson has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in "America's Best Hospitals," a survey published annually in U.S. News & World Report.