Ohio University

Ohio University to receive $29,000 Our Town Grant from National Endowment for the Arts

Published: June 10, 2020 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University has been awarded a Research Grants in the Arts award of $29,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts for a project to explore the impact of music-based learning strategies on caregiver stress levels and caregiver-infant social-emotional competence.

The grant is among more than $84 million in grants announced today by National Endowment for the Arts Chair Mary Anne Carter as part of the Arts Endowment’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2020. The OHIO grant is for the project, The Impact of Learning Music-Based Strategies on Caregiver Stress Levels and Caregiver/Infant Social-Emotional Competence: Demonstrating Feasibility Among At-Risk Families in Rural Appalachia, one of 15 grants nationwide the agency has approved in this category.

Carter says the award program highlights how essential contributions from the arts are to all institutions, including healthcare.

“These awards demonstrate the resilience of the arts in America, showcasing not only the creativity of their arts projects but the organizations’ agility in the face of a national health crisis,” Carter says. “We celebrate organizations like Ohio University for providing opportunities for learning and engagement through the arts in these times.”

Public health providers who service families impacted by the economic decline and opioid epidemic in Southeast Ohio need innovative evidence-based strategies for reducing caregiver stress and providing social-emotional well-being for their infants.

“Music is a natural medium for engagement with infants, through rhythmic movement, humming, and singing,” says Kamile Geist, the project’s principal investigator and professor and chair of Music Therapy at Ohio University College of Fine Arts’ School of Music.

A growing body of evidence supports how music impacts health for infants in medical facilities, yet there are few studies on how follow up music-based strategies used at home can impact stress and social-emotional development for caregivers and their infants.

"The first interactions an infant has with an adult caregiver are musical. This could be a steady rhythmic bounce, rocking, or patting as well as using different volumes and range of melodies when humming or singing to a baby,” says Geist, a nationally and internationally known researcher who studies the impact music-based rhythmic strategies can have on stress, attention, and social-emotional behaviors for infants, young children, caregivers, and teachers. “Because of the need for infants to receive positive bonding experiences for optimal development, it’s exciting for our team of experts and collaborators at Ohio University and in the Southeast Ohio community to conduct this research and observe the impact learning music interactive strategies can have on infant and caregiver stress hormones and social-emotional interactions.”

The project activities include delivering a music-based curriculum for at-home healthcare providers of Integrated Services (Help Me Grow) in Athens, Ohio, who will then teach caregivers lessons from the curriculum during their home visits. The researchers will measure the impact of these lessons on stress hormone levels and observed social engagement of both the caregiver and infant and provide community arts-based support for the participants and their families.

“We are so grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio University Research Committee, the College of Fine Arts, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education, and the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine for believing in the project’s mission and for supporting faculty and student research assistants to be a part of this innovative project,” Geist says.

The interdisciplinary research team at OHIO includes Peggy Zoccola, associate professor, Psychology; Eugene Geist, professor, Education; Berkeley Franz, assistant professor, Community-based Health; and Lee Ann Williams, associate director of Clinical Research Operations in the Heritage College. Community partners include Integrative Services (Help Me Grow) in Athens, Ohio; Central Ohio Music Therapy LLC, Columbus, Ohio; and Living Music LLC, Bremen, Ohio. On-campus collaborators include the Clinical and Translational Research Unit in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Ohio Valley Center for Collaborative Arts in the College of Fine Arts.

Additional funding for the project includes $7,950 from the Ohio University Research Committee and $29,000 in matching university funds and resources.

For more information on this National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.