The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Media Lab Collaborates on Faculty Research Grant

Krishna Poudel from the Department of Health Promotion and Policy received a Faculty Research Grant to help provide a video-based smoking cessation intervention for people living with HIV. Collaborating on the grant are Dr. Steve Acquah, Research Professor of Chemistry and Digital Media Lab Coordinator at the UMass Amherst Libraries, Dr. Damon Vidrine at the Florida Moffitt Cancer Center, and K. C. Prawchan at SPARSHA in Nepal.

As part of the feasibility testing for the faculty research grant, the team will evaluate the response to the videos from people living with HIV that attend an HIV clinic ‘SPARSHA Nepal’ in Kathmandu. The clinic already provides various services to including HIV testing and counseling, in-house crisis management, and community and home-based care. Previous work by the Principal Investigators in 2019 established the feasibility of cellphones as an effective delivery mechanism for videos in Nepal.

The UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Media Lab (DML) will develop a system to allow the participants to read messages and respond to questions. The participants will also receive text messages, including a link to video clips. During the pre-quit period, the participants will receive standardized motivational messages focusing on preparing them to quit smoking, highlighting the benefits of quitting. After the set quit date, the group will be asked if they have quit smoking. Those who quit smoking will receive a link to watch a subsequent video clip, while those who have not yet quit smoking will receive additional motivational messages for setting a new quit date.

“This project is the first step in creating better outcomes for smokers living with HIV,” Acquah says. “The media production team at the Digital Media Lab, including Yuntian Hu and Adam Quirós, are also supporting the development of the videos and the App. The DML is positioned to provide direct collaborative assistance on research projects, from the development of prototypes, audio/video production, and the drafting of proposals that address the research and broader impacts of federally funded grants.”

The Digital Media Lab has increasingly been involved in research projects supporting faculty and students, aligning with the strategic goals of the Libraries and UMass Amherst as well as reflecting the changing nature of the services it provides.