Senior researchers of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) at the Columbia University School of Social Work developed and tested Project Connect, the first couples-based, HIV-prevention intervention funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Having proven the effectiveness of Connect’s six-session program, however, they found two substantial barriers to wide dissemination: implementation required (1) a box-load of peripheral materials and (2) the skills of an advanced clinician. When we met, the SIG researchers had been working on Connect and related projects for eight years and were looking for ways to both enhance and streamline the intervention.
Multimedia Connect is a computer-supported HIV prevention intervention for couples at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The multimedia intervention, which includes interactive games, videos, and personalized materials, provides supplemental facilitator training and support materials as well as facilitated participant activities. In this way, it scaffolds the facilitator, providing a clear and comfortable framework for delivering a proven intervention curriculum, while simultaneously providing new options for national dissemination. The multimedia version was initially tested against the original paper version of the intervention at 80 community-based organizations to measure levels of adoption of the intervention in its multimedia form. “If the study, now in its third year, finds that community-based organizations are more likely to use the Internet-based version of the program,” says one Investigator, “it may become a prototype for the prevention and treatment of other health and human services-related issues.”