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From left, Center for Public Health faculty include Mance Buttram, Page Dobbs and Alex Russell.

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From left, Center for Public Health faculty include Mance Buttram, Page Dobbs and Alex Russell.

Three professors at the Center for Public Health and Technology have received nearly $2 million in prestigious grants from the National Institutes of Health that will help people with addiction problems.

The center, part of the College of Education and Health Professions, is a new interdisciplinary research center focused on public health, communication, health literacy, and emerging media and digital technologies. Faculty are experienced leaders and collaborators who bring the power of health, big data, community partnerships, and operational resources to the center’s affiliated research.

Reform of the Tobacco Access Act

Page Dobbs, the center’s interim director, received an $800,126 National Cancer Institute Tobacco Regulatory Science K01 award to explore social media discussions about policy gaps, enforcement challenges and industry interference with tobacco control policies.

“The tobacco industry has a long history of misleading policymakers by lobbying for tobacco control policies that are difficult to enforce or include loopholes,” Dobbs said. “While information about these tactics was harder to come by in the past, social media platforms like Twitter, Reddit and Tiktok now provide transparent data about tobacco policy discussions for anyone to find.”

Dobbs will explore social media discussions about tobacco control policies to understand how people avoid enforcement through policy loopholes, the challenges people experience when trying to enforce these laws, and how tobacco industries try to interfere with the enactment and enforcement of emerging tobacco laws. “I think this information is significant for policymakers and for the FDA, the agency that oversees the enforcement of all tobacco products,” he said.

Dobbs said that while smoking rates have declined over the past half century, the tobacco industry has recently recycled many deceptive tactics to promote new tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, to youth and young adults. As a result, e-cigarette use among this young audience has increased over the past decade.

“In light of the health consequences, such as e-cigarette and vaping-related lung injury (EVALI) that was first seen in 2019, the US Congress and the FDA acted quickly to enact legislation that raised the minimum legal age for the sale of tobacco products and restricted the sale of flavored pod-based e-cigarettes, respectively,” he said. “Furthermore, FDA continues to call for research to help inform the future of tobacco control policies that will reduce tobacco initiation and use, particularly among young and vulnerable populations.

Dobbs said the K01 award, titled “Gaps, Enforcement Challenges, and Tobacco Industry Interference with Tobacco Control Policies,” will allow her to examine emerging tobacco control policy conversations on social media. Examining the social networks that connect conversations between e-cigarette users, local vape shops, and corporate tobacco companies will help you identify policy gaps, enforcement challenges, and industry interference by time-stamped data. “This research may provide timely findings that will help inform FDA’s regulatory responses to emerging tobacco control policies,” he said.

Dobbs’ research will provide the FDA with prompt, action-oriented recommendations on these policies.

Alcohol use disorder intervention

Alex Russell, the center’s associate director of technology, received a $735,000 grant to conduct a study that aims to characterize alcohol use disorder and recovery-related exposures on Twitter to define salient barriers and facilitators of recovery, as well as identifying goals for later. intervention

The K01, an esteemed research career development award, is funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health.

“It’s an honor to receive this grant, and in large part a credit to the incredible mentors who have been placed in my life,” Russell said. “This is a great opportunity to receive additional hands-on training and begin conducting research consistent with NIAAA’s emphasis on identifying and developing strategies to reduce personal and organizational barriers that prevent individuals with alcohol use seek and receive appropriate care, as well as develop innovative behavioral strategies to promote drinking-related behavior change.”

Funded in September 2022, the study, titled “Characterizing Alcohol Use Disorder Recovery-Related Exposures on Social Media: Content, Cluster, and Network Analysis,” will run through 2027.

More than 3 million young American adults (ages 18-25) met diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder last year. “Although there are effective treatment options for the disorder, there is a large treatment gap because many young adults are hesitant to seek formal treatment,” Russell said. “Exploring new and innovative ways to engage young adults with recovery support resources is imperative. One such means to improve AUD treatment and recovery outcomes among young adults is to leverage networking platforms social to understand and address the practical and attitudinal barriers to engaging with services.”

Russell said previous research has established that social media use and engagement influence health behaviors, including alcohol consumption. However, social media platforms can also encourage healthy behaviors, such as abstinence or reducing alcohol consumption, he said. “My research aims to understand how we can use social media platforms to encourage people with alcohol use disorder to engage with evidence-based alcohol treatment services and in turn achieve successful recovery of their alcohol-related problems,” Russell said.

Nonmedical use of gabapentin and opioids

Mance Buttram, the center’s associate director of research, received a $436,653 R21 award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to be the first to examine how gabapentin, an anticonvulsant drug, can be used non-medically in combination with prescriptions and illicit. opioids

“Limited data show that gabapentin is used by people with opioid use disorder to enhance the euphoric effects of opiates, but at the same time, data also show that gabapentin is used to treat symptoms of opiate use disorder and the physical pain experienced by people who use drugs,” he said. “This study will use novel qualitative methods, including ethnographic decision modeling, and conduct surveys of drug users in collaboration with substance use disorder treatment centers in seven states.”

The findings of this study, titled “An Examination of Concomitant Non-Medical Use of Gabapentin and Opioids,” will help prescribers and substance use disorder treatment providers understand how gabapentin is used in community settings. “real world”.

“By examining the phenomenon, data from this study will contribute to public health knowledge of an understudied aspect of the opioid crisis, inform opioid use disorder treatment practices, aid in the development of ‘prevention strategies and interventions, as well as public policy initiatives,’ Buttram said.

About the Center for Public Health and Technology: As a multidisciplinary research center, the Center for Public Health and Technology invites you to collaborate with faculty from departments and universities. Faculty focus on cutting-edge research, training and mentoring at all levels, and strong community partnerships. The center’s research incorporates a wide range of social and health issues and cultivates mixed methods, including descriptive, experimental and interventional approaches. Broadly, the center’s work aims to increase understanding of how technologies (online, digital, social, wearable, among others) promote positive health behaviors and reduce the burden of disease, as well as examine the challenges associated with technology, including the spread of misinformation. and promotion of behaviors harmful to health.

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Source: Center for Public Health Faculty Awarded Nearly $2 Million in NIH Grants to Study Addiction Issues

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