IRB’s Melanie Domenech Rodríguez Engages the Spanish-speaking Community with Research

Melanie Domenech Rodríguez, an associate professor in the department of psychology at Utah State University and member of USU’s Institutional Review Board, has recently returned from sabbatical in Puerto Rico where she began an ongoing research project involving human subjects.

Domenech Rodríguez has navigated IRBs in two countries and other institutions, an experience that she credits with making her a more responsible and thoughtful researcher. She is also a licensed psychologist and provides services to Spanish-speaking Latino families, as well as supervising doctoral students’ service provision to a diverse array of clients.

“Melanie’s work in Puerto Rico and with the Latino community of northern Utah is a good example of how IRB members are engaged in the community,” said Jeff Broadbent, associate vice president for research at USU. “The IRB recruits members who have demonstrated the highest standards and ethics in human subjects research; to serve as a member of the Board is an appointment of prestige and value. We are pleased with Melanie’s human subjects research and are glad to have her as a member of the Board.”

IRB members must be knowledgeable about institutional commitments and regulations regarding the use of human subjects in research, applicable laws, standards of professional conduct and practice, and must be diverse in race, gender and cultural background.

Between 2003 and 2008, Domenech Rodríguez was supported by an NIMH-funded K01 grant to culturally adapt, implement, and evaluate a Parent Management Training – Oregon (PMTO) model intervention with Spanish-speaking Latino families. As part of this project she collected data on 50 families to examine parenting practices and the appropriateness of the proposed research methods, prior to conducting a randomized controlled trial with 87 families. During this trial, she developed an intervention manual that was tailored to first-generation Latinos in Cache Valley. The manual is titled Criando con Amor: Promoviendo Armonía y Superación (CAPAS).

The Logan-based work of Domenech Rodríguez led to collaborations in Mexico, Michigan, and Puerto Rico. In México, she collaborates with researchers at the Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatría in Mexico City as a co-investigator on a randomized controlled trial of PMTO. The project is federally funded by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología. In addition to investigating parenting practices, child outcomes, and intervention impact there, she is examining training procedures in México to best understand how to implement the model across cultural groups while maintaining fidelity to the original intervention. Fifty families have already enrolled in the study.

In Michigan, Domenech Rodríguez is a co-investigator on a randomized controlled trial of two PMTO interventions, one that has been culturally adapted and one that has been minimally adapted for use with first-generation Latinos in Michigan. In Puerto Rico, behavioral observation procedures and self-report surveys are currently being administered to 50 two-parent families to better understand parenting practices there. She is comparing these to those of Mexicans living in Mexico as well as first-generation Mexican immigrants to the U.S. and informing cultural adaptations to PMTO interventions delivered in Puerto Rico.

Domenech Rodríguez obtained her doctoral degree at Colorado State University in 1999 where she trained at the Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Family Research Consortium – III at the University of Washington.
The IRB is a federally-mandated research support service at USU designed to protect citizens against potential risks of research participation while promoting high quality studies that benefit the extended university community. The USU IRB recently received full accreditation by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. and joins 175 other organizations nationwide to strengthen the protection of human research participants.

“The IRB’s recent accreditation by AAHRPP and the talented faculty who are serving on the committee are evidence of USU’s commitment to research integrity and safety,” said Brent Miller, USU vice president for research. “It serves as recognition that USU is a leader among our colleagues in raising awareness of the importance of human subjects protection.”

Writer: Jacoba Mendelkow Poppleton,
Contact: Melanie Domenech Rodríguez,