Connect Disseminated to CDC-Funded Community-Based Organizations Nationwide

Developed and tested by SIG researchers, Connect is the first relationship-based HIV/STI prevention intervention with demonstrated effectiveness in reducing sexual risk behaviors when provided to individuals or to couples together (among a sample of HIV-negative, positive and serodiscordant couples). Connect is the only relationship-based DEBI (Diffusion of Effective Behavioral Interventions), and the only DEBI developed and implemented for couples.

Funded by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), from 2007-2009, a team of SIG investigators packaged the Connect intervention for dissemination through the DEBI program. Click on the “Introducing Connect” video for an overview of the project.

Together with the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL), SIG and CDC researchers translated and packaged the Connect intervention for use in real-world settings, and achieved technology transfer of the packaged intervention with two HIV services agencies in New York.

From 2007-2012, a team of SIG researchers led by Dr. Susan Witte further translated the Connect program into a web-based version and tested whether training and implementation on the web-based version would yield higher adoption rates among 40 community-based agencies in New York State, compared to 40 agencies receiving the training and implementation on the DEBI described above. Findings will be reported at the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. in July.

To ensure standardized and highest fidelity delivery of core intervention elements among facilitators with a range of experience, the translation includes a multimedia interface to assist in facilitator training, with all program materials in downloadable format. The final package includes: 

  • A Starter Kit; Technical Assistance Guide, Implementation Manual, and Training of Facilitator’s Curriculum;
  • A complete DVD including 22 videos used during facilitator training or program implementation;
  • A marketing video; and
  • A CD-Rom with Facilitator Training Interface, which also includes all 22 video vignettes used in training or program implementation.

The Connect package is now disseminated to CDC-funded community-based organizations nationwide. See

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Columbia News Singles Out Multimedia Connect On World AIDS Day

December 2, 2009. Multimedia Connect, the web-based HIV intervention project co-developed by CCNMTL, was the focus of yesterday’s Columbia News article, Professor Teams With New Media Center to Better Inform Couples About HIV.

Multimedia Connect is based on the proven couples-level intervention called Connect that was designed for heterosexual couples at risk for HIV/STIs and developed by the Social Intervention Group at the Columbia School of Social Work. Principal investigator Susan Witte and CCNMTL created the multimedia version of the intervention, complete with interactive games, videos, and other training materials, and are currently testing the intervention in a five-year study supported with funding from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH). The study will test the multimedia version of the intervention against the paper version at 80 community-based organizations to measure levels of adoption of the intervention in its multimedia form.

Both Witte and CCNMTL are featured in the Columbia News article, which explains Multimedia Connect and the implications of the current study: “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, it may become a prototype for the prevention and treatment of other health and human services-related issues.” Read the full article here.

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CCNMTL And SIG Receive $3.5 Million Grant

July 30, 2007 – The Columbia University School of Social Work’s Social Intervention Group (SIG) and the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) announced today the receipt of a $3.5 million, five-year research grant award from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The goal of the collaborative project is to evaluate the outcomes of using multimedia and web-based technology to disseminate an HIV prevention program.

Project Connect is the first prevention program designed for heterosexual couples at risk of HIV infection. “The incidence of new HIV infections is not yet declining, but we know how to reduce potential risks,” said Dr. Susan Witte, principal investigator and associate professor at the School of Social Work. “While paper-based materials have been traditionally utilized in prevention programs, multimedia strategies promise a greater likelihood of more rapid and widespread risk reduction. Our goal is to determine the most effective method for the dissemination of important information to the larger community.”

Funds from NIMH will further this goal: 80 community-based organizations in New York State will be randomly selected to receive either the paper version of Connect or the web-based Multimedia Connect developed by the SIG/CCNMTL team. Multimedia Connect incorporates videos, interactive tools and activities that support both the facilitator in sessions with clients as well as training of the facilitator. The technology also reduces facilitators’ preparation time, enabling them to focus more on clients. SIG researchers will evaluate the successful adoption of the intervention at the end of the five-year period.

“CCNMTL’s work with SIG on Multimedia Connect has advanced the research they pioneered, positioning them now to undertake the study of a large-scale dissemination of their proven intervention,” said Frank Moretti, executive director of CCNMTL. ”An additional and important benefit of this work is its active use in social work classrooms as well as in the field.”

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Project Connect in the Columbia Daily Spector

November 10, 2006 – The Columbia Daily Spectator published an article about the collaboration between CCNMTL and the Social Intervention Group (SIG) at the School of Social Work to produce Multimedia Connect. The article discusses how the multimedia version, which has been tested in a six-week pilot program, has adapted the HIV education program to make it easier for clinical facilitators to guide couples through a program about HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

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