A comprehensive mentoring program includes a variety of components. One of the most important is the ongoing assessment of and feedback to mentors. Scholars need strong active mentors who have the expertise, disposition, motivation, skills, and the ability to accept feedback and to adjust their mentoring style. Assessing the effectiveness of a given mentor is no easy task. Variability in learning needs and academic goals among scholars makes it difficult to develop a single evaluation instrument or a standardized procedure for evaluating mentors. Scholars, mentors, and program leaders are often reluctant to conduct formal evaluations, as there are no commonly accepted measures. The process of giving feedback is often difficult and there is limited empirical data on efficacy. This article presents a new and innovative six-component approach to mentor evaluation that includes the assessment of mentee training and empowerment, peer learning and mentor training, scholar advocacy, mentee–mentor expectations, mentor self-reflection, and mentee evaluation of their mentor.
mentors; evaluation; outcomes
Although the importance of research mentorship has been well established, the role of mentors of junior clinical and translational science investigators is not clearly defined. The authors attempt to derive a list of actionable competencies for mentors from a series of complementary methods. We examined focus groups, the literature, competencies derived for clinical and translational scholars, mentor training curricula, mentor evaluation forms and finally conducted an expert panel process in order to compose this list. These efforts resulted in a set of competencies that include generic competencies expected of all mentors, competencies specific to scientists, and competencies that are clinical and translational research specific. They are divided into six thematic areas: (1) Communication and managing the relationship, (2) Psychosocial support, (3) Career and professional development, (4) Professional enculturation and scientific integrity, (5) Research development, and (6) Clinical and translational investigator development. For each thematic area, we have listed associated competencies, 19 in total. For each competency, we list examples that are actionable and measurable. Although a comprehensive approach was used to derive this list of competencies, further work will be required to parse out how to apply and adapt them, as well future research directions and evaluation processes.
mentoring; mentor; competencies; translational
The mentoring relationship between a scholar and their primary mentor is a core feature of research training. Anecdotal evidence suggests this relationship is adversely affected when scholar and mentor expectations are not aligned. We examined three questions: (1) What is the value in assuring that the expectations of scholars and mentors are mutually identified and aligned? (2) What types of programmatic interventions facilitate this process? (3) What types of expectations are important to identify and align? We addressed these questions through a systematic literature review, focus group interviews of mentors and scholars, a survey of Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) KL2 program directors, and review of formal programmatic mechanisms used by KL2 programs. We found broad support for the importance of identifying and aligning the expectations of scholars and mentors and evidence that mentoring contracts, agreements, and training programs facilitate this process. These tools focus on aligning expectations with respect to the scholar’s research, education, professional development and career advancement as well as support, communication, and personal conduct and interpersonal relations. Research is needed to assess test the efficacy of formal alignment activities.
mentors; mentoring; career development; faculty development; staff development
Itch is one of the major somatosensory modalities. Some recent findings have proposed that gastrin releasing peptide (Grp) is expressed in a subset of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and functions as a selective neurotransmitter for transferring itch information to spinal cord interneurons. However, expression data from public databases and earlier literatures indicate that Grp mRNA is only detected in dorsal spinal cord (dSC) whereas its family member neuromedin B (Nmb) is highly expressed in DRG neurons. These contradictory results argue that a thorough characterization of the expression of Grp and Nmb is warranted.
Grp mRNA is highly expressed in dSC but is barely detectable in DRGs of juvenile and adult mice. Anti-bombesin serum specifically recognizes Grp but not Nmb. Grp is present in a small number of small-diameter DRG neurons and in abundance in layers I and II of the spinal cord. The reduction of dSC Grp after dorsal root rhizotomy is significantly different from those of DRG derived markers but similar to that of a spinal cord neuronal marker. Double fluorescent in situ of Nmb and other molecular markers indicate that Nmb is highly and selectively expressed in nociceptive and itch-sensitive DRG neurons.
The majority of dSC Grp is synthesized locally in dorsal spinal cord neurons. On the other hand, Nmb is highly expressed in pain- and itch-sensing DRG neurons. Our findings provide direct anatomic evidence that Grp could function locally in the dorsal spinal cord in addition to its roles in DRG neurons and that Nmb has potential roles in nociceptive and itch-sensitive neurons. These results will improve our understanding about roles of Grp and Nmb in mediating itch sensation.
Gastrin releasing peptide; Neuromedin B; Itch; Dorsal root ganglion; Spinal cord
The goal of this paper is to present strategies utilized to support K scholar research mentors. K scholars are generally assistant professors who are close to developing independent research programs. Of all the various types of mentees, K scholars offer the greatest challenges, as well as the greatest rewards, for research mentors. To see one's mentee achieve independent PI status and become an established investigator is one of the great joys of being a research mentor. Research mentors for K scholars, however, may not directly benefit from their mentoring relationship, neither in terms of obtaining data to support their research program or laboratory, nor in assistance with grants or scientific papers. There is a pressing need for the research community to address the workload, institutional expectations and reward system for research mentors. The dearth of research mentors and role models in clinical translational science parallels the decreasing number of physicians choosing careers in clinical research. While there is limited empirical information on the effectiveness of mentor support mechanisms, this white paper concludes that providing mentor support is critical to expanding the available pool of mentors, as well as providing training opportunities for K scholars.
translational research; salary; protected time; resources
Mentoring is an important element in the training of new investigators, particularly for KL2, K12, K08, and K23 funded scholars who are often physicians or other clinicians with limited prior research experience. Matching K scholars with appropriate mentors who have the mentoring skills and available time is an ongoing challenge for most universities. The goal of this paper is to present a variety of strategies used to select mentors for K awardees. The information presented in this special communication is derived from the literature, a national survey of CTSA leaders, as well as K scholar and K mentor focus groups.
Some of the mentor selection methods discussed in this paper include a) having the scholar find a mentor as part of the application process for the award, b) selecting mentors post award, c) expecting the chair of the department to identify a mentor(s), d) using a committee to match the scholar and a mentor based on a pool of approved mentors e) selecting additional mentors as the scholar’s research program develops. The paper concludes that mentor selection requires an ongoing programmatic approach with the active participation of K scholars, CTSA program leaders, center directors, research deans and chairs.
research mentor selection
An alcohol-induced memory blackout represents an amnesia to recall events but does not involve a loss of consciousness. Memory blackouts are a common occurrence among college drinkers, but it is not clear if a history of memory blackouts is predictive of future alcohol-related injury above and beyond the risk associated with heavy drinking episodes. This analysis sought to determine if baseline memory blackouts can prospectively identify college students with alcohol-related injury in the next 24 months after controlling for heavy drinking days.
Data were analyzed from the College Health Intervention Project Study (CHIPS), a randomized controlled trial of screening and brief physician intervention for problem alcohol use among 796 undergraduate and 158 graduate students at four university sites in the US and one in Canada, conducted from 2004 to 2009. Multivariate analyses used generalized estimating equations (GEE) with the logit link.
The overall 24-month alcohol-related injury rate was 25.6%, with no significant difference between males and females (p=.51). Alcohol-induced memory blackouts at baseline exhibited a significant dose-response on odds of alcohol-related injury during follow-up, increasing from 1.57 (95% CI: 1.13–2.19) for subjects reporting 1–2 memory blackouts at baseline to 2.64 (95% CI: 1.65–4.21) for students acknowledging 6+ memory blackouts at baseline. The link between memory blackouts and injury was mediated by younger age, prior alcohol-related injury, heavy drinking, and sensation-seeking disposition.
Memory blackouts are a significant predictor of future alcohol-related injury among college drinkers after adjusting for heavy drinking episodes.
alcohol drinking; alcohol abuse; blackout; memory
Depression and suicide are of increasing concern on college campuses. This article presents data from the College Health Intervention Projects on the frequency of depression and suicide ideation among 1,622 college students who accessed primary care services in 4 university clinics in the Midwest, Northwest, and Canada. Students completed the Beck Depression Inventory and other measures related to exercise patterns, alcohol use, sensation seeking, and violence. The frequency of depression was similar for men (25%) and women (26%). Thought of suicide was higher for men (13%) than women (10%). Tobacco use, emotional abuse, and unwanted sexual encounters were all associated with screening positive for depression. “Days of exercise per week” was inversely associated with screening positive for depression. Because the majority of students access campus-based student health centers, medical providers can serve a key role in early identification and intervention. With every 4th student reporting symptoms of depression and every 10th student having suicidal thoughts, such interventions are needed.
university students; full and reduced-form logistic regression; randomized controlled trials; depression; suicidal ideation; university health clinics
Given the high rate of at-risk drinking in college students, the authors examined drinking behaviors and associated factors in students being seen in student health services for primary care visits from October 30, 2004 to February 15, 2007.
Analyses were based on a Health Screening Survey (HSS) completed by 10,234 college students seeking general medical treatment.
Alcohol use was similar to other studies with 57% (n=5840) meeting the NIAAA criteria for at-risk drinking. Twenty-six percent of the students reported smoking at least once in the last 3 months. Risk factors for at-risk drinking included young age, white males, drinking at a fraternity/sorority house, and use of tobacco.
Our findings support the widespread implementation of alcohol screening and intervention in university health services.
College drinking; alcohol; student health services; alcohol intervention
Brief primary care interventions structured around patient workbooks have been shown to be effective in modifying hazardous drinking behavior. However, the critical ingredients of such interventions are not well understood, possibly contributing to their under-utilization. Seventeen campus-based clinicians trained in a brief, workbook-based alcohol intervention participated in a qualitative study to identify the most promising clinician-patient interaction components within this shared approach, utilizing a focus group with the clinicians and ranking of the 24 workbook ingredients. Based on the clinicians’ collective experience, consensus emerged around the perceived strength of five main components: (1) providing a summary of the patient’s drinking level, (2) discussing drinking likes and dislikes, (3) discussing life goals, (4) encouraging a risk-reduction agreement, and (5) asking patients to track their drinking (on cards provided for this purpose). This is the first paper to examine primary care physician perspectives on potentially critical components of effective brief alcohol intervention. (150 words)
brief intervention; heavy alcohol use; high-risk drinking; motivational interviewing; alcohol counseling; critical ingredients
There is limited information on how academic institutions support effective mentoring practices for new investigators. A national semi-structured telephone interview was conducted to assess current “state of the art” mentoring practices for KL2 scholars among the 46 institutions participating in the Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Consortium. Mentoring practices examined included: mentor selection, articulating and aligning expectations, assessing the mentoring relationship, and mentor training. Telephone interviews were conducted in winter/fall 2009, with 100% of the CTSAs funded (n = 46) through 2009, participating in the survey. Primary findings include: five programs selected mentors for K scholars, 14 programs used mentor contracts to define expectations, 16 programs reported formal mentor evaluation, 10 offered financial incentives to mentors, and 13 offered formal mentoring training. The interviews found considerable variation in mentoring practices for training new investigators among the 46 CTSAs. There was also limited consensus on “what works” and what are the core elements of “effective mentoring practices. Empirical research is needed to help research leaders decide on where and how to place resources related to mentoring.
mentoring; training; clinical and translational research
While most college students and other young adults who smoke fall into the light and intermittent smoking (LITS) category, they remain at risk for tobacco dependence and other adverse health effects from their smoking. This study examines smoking patterns, tobacco dependence, and other health variables among students at five universities to better understand how to identify and address tobacco use and related risks in a college health clinic setting.
A health screening survey was completed by 2,091 college and graduate student volunteers seeking routine care at their university health centers or participating in a health class. Independent health variables were analyzed descriptively and in regression analyses with three levels of smoking (none, non-daily, and daily) and tobacco dependence to determine predictors and associated risks.
Nearly a quarter of students reported any current smoking, 41% of whom reported smoking less than 1 cigarette/day (cpd). Of the daily smokers, 80% smoked less than 10 cpd but 45% met criteria for tobacco dependence. Any smoking was associated with high-risk alcohol use, risky driving, relational abuse, depression, less exercise, and utilization of emergency and mental health services. In regression analyses, students who experienced depression had more than double the odds of being dependent smokers (odds ratio [OR] = 2.32), as did those who reported abuse (OR = 2.07) or sought mental health counseling (OR = 2.09).
Student health providers should be alerted to the multiple risks and comorbidities that occur among all smokers, including LITS, and intervene concurrently to help prevent or mitigate adverse outcomes that result from these conditions and behaviors.
The present research examined the relation of psychiatric disorders to tobacco dependence and cessation outcomes.
Data were collected from 1504 smokers (58.2% women, 83.9% white, 44.67 [SD = 11.08] years old) making an aided smoking cessation attempt as part of a clinical trial. Psychiatric diagnoses were determined using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) structured clinical interview. Tobacco dependence was assessed using the Fagerstrom Test of Nicotine Dependence (FTND) and the Wisconsin Inventory of Smoking Dependence Motives (WISDM).
Diagnostic groups included those who were never diagnosed, ever diagnosed (at any time, including in the past year), and those with past-year diagnoses (with or without prior diagnosis). Some diagnostic groups had lower follow-up abstinence rates than did the never diagnosed group (p’s < .05). At 8 weeks post-quit, strong associations were found between cessation outcome and both past-year mood disorder and ever-diagnosed anxiety disorder. At 6 months post-quit those ever diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (OR = .72, p = .02) and those ever diagnosed with more than one psychiatric diagnosis (OR = .74, p = .03) had lower abstinence rates. The diagnostic categories did not differ in smoking heaviness or the FTND, but they did differ in dependence motives assessed with the WISDM.
Information on recent or lifetime psychiatric disorders may help clinicians gauge relapse risk and may suggest dependence motives that are particularly relevant to affected patients. These findings also illustrate the importance of using multidimensional tobacco dependence assessments.
smoking cessation; psychiatric disorders; psychiatric comorbidity; nicotine dependence; depression; anxiety
The dorsal thalamus acts as a gateway and modulator for information going to and from the cerebral cortex. This activity requires the formation of reciprocal topographic axon connections between thalamus and cortex. The axons grow along a complex multistep pathway, making sharp turns, crossing expression boundaries, and encountering intermediate targets. However, the cellular and molecular components mediating these steps remain poorly understood.
To further elucidate the development of the thalamocortical system, we first created a thalamocortical axon reporter line to use as a genetic tool for sensitive analysis of mutant mouse phenotypes. The TCA-tau-lacZ reporter mouse shows specific, robust, and reproducible labeling of thalamocortical axons (TCAs), but not the overlapping corticothalamic axons, during development. Moreover, it readily reveals TCA pathfinding abnormalities in known cortical mutants such as reeler. Next, we performed an unbiased screen for genes involved in thalamocortical development using random mutagenesis with the TCA reporter. Six independent mutant lines show aberrant TCA phenotypes at different steps of the pathway. These include ventral misrouting, overfasciculation, stalling at the corticostriatal boundary, and invasion of ectopic cortical cell clusters. An outcross breeding strategy coupled with a genomic panel of single nucleotide polymorphisms facilitated genetic mapping with small numbers of mutant mice. We mapped a ventral misrouting mutant to the Emx2 gene, and discovered that some TCAs extend to the olfactory bulbs in this mutant. Mapping data suggest that other lines carry mutations in genes not previously known for roles in thalamocortical development.
These data demonstrate the feasibility of a forward genetic approach to understanding mammalian brain morphogenesis and wiring. A robust axonal reporter enabled sensitive analysis of a specific axon tract inside the mouse brain, identifying mutant phenotypes at multiple steps of the pathway, and revealing a new aspect of the Emx2 mutant. The phenotypes highlight vulnerable choice points and latent tendencies of TCAs, and will lead to a refined understanding of the elements and interactions required to form the thalamocortical system.
See Commentary: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/9/1
To explore gender differences in prevalence, types, perpetrators and correlates of recent violence experiences among university students at campus clinics at 5 universities in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest U.S. and Canada.
Systematic survey of students presenting for routine primary care visits (N=2,091), pencil-&-paper screen for recent emotional and physical violence exposure (past 6 months), demographics, plus sensation seeking, at-risk alcohol use, and depression. Chi-square tests compared prevalence by gender; correlates for types of violence were analyzed separately for men and women using chi-square with adjusted standardized residuals comparing no violence, intimate partner violence (IPV) and other violence (Other).
Similar rates of men (17%) and women (16%) reported any violence in the past 6 months; women were more likely to report emotional and men to report physical violence. Of those reporting emotional violence, 45.5% women and 50% men indicated it was IPV, and 23.7% women and 20.9% men reported physical IPV. Correlates differed by gender; demographics were not linked to IPV. At-risk drinking was associated with both IPV and Other violence for women, but only Other violence for men. Depression was the only correlate significantly linked to IPV for men.
Recent violence exposure among university students affects nearly 1 in 5 attending campus clinics. Screening for violence exposure should include both men and women, especially students who indicate heavy drinking patterns or depressive symptoms. Campus health promotion interventions should address healthy dating relationships. Further research on IPV among college men is needed.
Campus health clinics; relationship violence; violence exposure; college students; alcohol use; depression; gender differences
Objective To determine the effect of time and day of birth on the risk of neonatal death at term.
Design Population based retrospective cohort study.
Setting Data from the linked Scottish morbidity records, Stillbirth and Infant Death Survey, and birth certificate database of live births in Scotland, 1985-2004.
Subjects Liveborn term singletons with cephalic presentation. Perinatal deaths from congenital anomalies excluded. Final sample comprised 1 039 560 live births.
Main outcome measure All neonatal deaths (in the first four weeks of life) unrelated to congenital abnormality, plus a subgroup of deaths ascribed to intrapartum anoxia.
Results The risk of neonatal death was 4.2 per 10 000 during the normal working week (Monday to Friday, 0900-1700) and 5.6 per 10 000 at all other times (out of hours) (unadjusted odds ratio 1.3, 95% confidence interval 1.1 to 1.6). Adjustment for maternal characteristics had no material effect. The higher rate of death out of hours was because of an increased risk of death ascribed to intrapartum anoxia (adjusted odds ratio 1.7, 1.2 to 2.3). Though exclusion of elective caesarean deliveries attenuated the association between death ascribed to anoxia and delivery out of hours, a significant association persisted (adjusted odds ratio 1.5, 1.1 to 2.0). The attributable fraction of neonatal deaths ascribed to intrapartum anoxia associated with delivery out of hours was 26% (95% confidence interval 5% to 42%).
Conclusions Delivering an infant outside the normal working week was associated with an increased risk of neonatal death at term ascribed to intrapartum anoxia.
The goal of this report is to assess the relationship of varying levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and hospital complications in patients admitted after motor vehicle crashes. Data for the study was collected by a retrospective review of the University of Wisconsin Hospital trauma registry between 1999 and 2007 using the National Trauma Registry of the American College of Surgeons (NTRACS). Of 3729 patients, 2210 (59%) had a negative BAC, 338 (9%) <100 mg/dL, 538 (14%) 100–199 mg/dL, and 643 (17%) >200 mg/dL. Forty-six percent of patients had one or more hospital related complications. The odds ratio (OR) for the occurrence of alcohol withdrawal in the three alcohol groups compared to the no alcohol group was 12.02 (CI 7.0–20.7), 16.81 (CI 10.4–27.2), and 30.96 (CI 19.5–49.2) as BAC increased with a clear dose response effect. While there were no significant differences in the frequency of the total hospital events following trauma across the four groups, rates of infections, coagulopathies, central nervous system events and renal complications were lower in the high BAC group. Prospective studies are needed to more precisely estimate the frequency of hospital complications in patients with alcohol use disorders and in persons intoxicated at the time of the motor vehicle accident. The study supports the use of routine BAC to predict patients at high risk for alcohol withdrawal and the early initiation of alcohol detoxification.
alcohol intoxication; alcohol withdrawal delirium; trauma; motor vehicle; complications
The authors examined whether alcohol use decreased condom use.
The subjects were heavy-drinking students on 5 different college campuses.
A face-to-face interview, administered between November of 2004 and February of 2007, gathered information about condom use, alcohol use, and other behaviors. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess predictors of condom use.
Of the 1715 participants, 64% reported that they did not always use condoms. Male students who drank heavily were less likely to always use condoms (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 0.61). Participants with more sexual partners used condoms less when drinking (AOR 1.93 for men, 1.45 for women).
Many students do not use condoms consistently, especially those who drink heavily or have multiple sexual partners. Clinicians at student health need to encourage all students to use condoms every time they have intercourse.
The aim of this report is to determine the frequency of aberrant drug behaviors and their relationship substance abuse disorders in a large primary sample of patients receiving opioids for chronic pain.
The data utilized for this report was obtained from 904 chronic pain patients receiving opioid therapy from their primary care physician. A questionnaire was developed based on 12 aberrant drug behaviors reported in the clinical literature. The diagnosis of a current substance use disorder was determined using DSM-IV criteria.
The average duration of chronic pain in the sample was 16 years, and for opioid therapy 6.4 years. 80.5% of the sample reported one or more lifetime aberrant drug behaviors. The most frequent behaviors reported included early refills (41.7%), increase dose without physician consent (35.7%) and felt intoxicated from opioids (32.2%). Only 1.1% of subjects with 1-3 aberrant behaviors (n=464, 51.2%) met DSM-IV criteria for current opioid dependence compared to 9.9% of patients with 4 or more behaviors (n=264, 29.3%). Persons with a positive urine toxicology tests for cocaine were 14 times more likely to report 4 or more behaviors than no behaviors (14.1% v.s.1.1%). A logistic model found that subjects who reported four or more aberrant behaviors were more likely to have a current substance use disorder (OR 10.14; 3.72, 27.64), a positive test for cocaine (OR 3.01; 1.74, 15.4), an ASI psychiatric composite score >0.5 (OR 2.38; 1.65, 3.44), male gender (OR 2.08: 1.48, 2.92) and older age (OR 0.69; 0.59, 0.81) compared to subjects with three or fewer behaviors. Pain levels, employment status and morphine equivalent dose do not enter the model.
Patients who report 4 or more aberrant drug behaviors are associated with a current substance use disorder and illicit drug use, whereas subjects with up to 3 aberrant behaviors have a very low probability of a current substance abuse disorder. Four behaviors - over sedated oneself, felt intoxicated, early refills, increase dose on own – appear useful as a screening questions to predict patients at greatest risk for a current substance use disorders.
Aberrant drug behaviors; chronic pain; opioids; primary care
Despite the enormous burden of alcohol-related injuries, the direct connection between college drinking and physical injury has not been well understood. The goal of this study is to assess the connection between alcohol consumption levels and college alcohol-related injury risk.
12,900 college students seeking routine care in 5 college health clinics completed a general Health Screening Survey. 2,090 of these students exceeded at-risk alcohol use levels and participated in a face-to-face interview to determine eligibility for a brief alcohol intervention trial. The eligibility interview assessed past 28-day alcohol use and alcohol-related injuries in the past 6 months. Risk of alcohol-related injury was compared across daily drinking quantities and frequencies. Logistic regression analysis and the Bayesian Information Criterion were applied to compute the odds of alcohol-related injury based on daily drinking totals after adjusting for age, race, site, body weight and sensation seeking.
Male college students in the study were 19% more likely (95% CI: 1.12–1.26) to suffer an alcohol-related injury with each additional day of consuming 8 or more drinks. Injury risks among males increased marginally with each day of consuming 5–7 drinks (Odds ratio=1.03, 95% CI: 0.94–1.13). Female participants were 10% more likely (95% CI: 1.04–1.16) to suffer an alcohol-related injury with each additional day of drinking 5 or more drinks. Males (OR=1.69, 95% CI: 1.14–2.50) and females (OR=1.81, 95% CI: 1.27–2.57) with higher sensation seeking scores were more likely to suffer alcohol-related injuries.
College health clinics may want to focus limited alcohol injury prevention resources on students who frequently engage in extreme drinking, defined in this study as 8+M/5+F drinks per day, and score high on sensation seeking disposition.
Alcohol; College drinking; Injury; Heavy drinking; Sensation-seeking
This paper reports on secondary results from the Healthy Moms Study, a clinical trial to test the efficacy of brief intervention on reducing alcohol use and alcohol-related harms in postpartum women.
Study Design and Methods
Data from a randomized clinical trial conducted between 2002 and 2005 with a sample of Wisconsin women was analyzed. This report presents comparison data on depressive symptomatology between postpartum women drinking above recommended levels who received a brief alcohol intervention and those who received no intervention.
At six month follow-up, there was a significant reduction in mean depression scores compared to baseline in the women who received the alcohol intervention (p <.001). There was not a significant reduction in depressive symptomatology in the control group. Mean level of depression at six months was significantly predicted by baseline depression and the intervention (p=.018). Alcohol use at either baseline or follow-up was not a predictive factor in determining mean depressive symptomatology.
The results of the Healthy Moms Study support the importance of both alcohol and depression screening during the postpartum period. Brief alcohol intervention during this time may also positively affect depressive symptomatology.
Postpartum depression; Brief intervention; Co-morbidity; Health screening
The prevention and treatment of alcohol use disorders among women of reproductive age have been well described. However, there is limited information on women specifically during the postpartum period. This period in a woman's life is a time of transition and provides an ideal opportunity for primary care providers to intervene.
The goal of this report is to present the results of a brief alcohol intervention conducted in 34 obstetrical practices in women seeking routine postpartum care.
A randomized clinical trial was conducted from 2002-2005 in a diverse sample of women located in 15 Wisconsin counties. This report presents 6 month follow-up data.
8,706 women were screened for high-risk alcohol use during routine postpartum care with 997 (12%) of these women testing positive for at-risk drinking. 235 women met inclusion criteria and were randomized to either “usual care” or “brief intervention”. The four session intervention was delivered by outpatient obstetrical nurses and research staff. The mean age of the women in the sample was 28, 19.3% were from minority groups, 60.8% were married, 53.2% reported current tobacco use and 17.9% had used marijuana in the previous 30 days. At the 6 month follow-up appointment, there were significant reductions in mean number of total drinks in the previous 28 days (p<.013), number of drinking days (p<.024) and heavy drinking days (p<.019). In addition to a statistical difference between groups, there was a 19% difference in the mean number of drinks and number of drinking days, and a 36% difference in the number of heavy drinking days in favor of the intervention group.
The findings of the Healthy Moms Trial support the implementation of brief alcohol intervention during the postpartum period.
alcohol brief intervention trials; post partum women; fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
The treatment of chronic pain with opioids remains controversial. Physicians are concerned about addiction and drug diversion, and there is limited empirical information on using opioids with chronic pain patients. This report presents data collected on the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) in a sample of patients (n=908) receiving opioids from their primary care physicians. The ASI provides clinically important information about patients receiving opioid therapy. The ASI consists of seven subscales including medical, alcohol, drug, employment/support, legal, family/social, and psychiatric domains. Clinically relevant findings include a high ASI medical score (0.87), high psychiatric severity score (0.27), lifetime treatment of alcohol problems (reported by 22% of males), 5.6% prior delirium tremens, 10.1% prior treatment for drug problems, 12.1% prior drug overdose, 28% drunk driving citations; 40.3% of females had serious suicidal thoughts, and 23.8% suicide attempts. The ASI provides important information that can help primary care physicians manage chronic pain patients receiving opioid therapy.
Addiction Severity Index; ASI; chronic opioid therapy; chronic pain; primary care; substance use disorders
Accidents stemming from alcohol-impaired driving are the leading cause of injury and death among college students. Research has implicated certain driver personality characteristics in the majority of these motor vehicle crashes. Sensation seeking in particular has been linked to risky driving, alcohol consumption, and driving while intoxicated. This study investigated the effect of sensation-seeking on self-reported alcohol-impaired driving behavior in a college student population while adjusting for demographics, residence and drinking locations. A total of 1,587 college students over the age of 18 completed a health screening survey while presenting for routine, non-urgent care at campus heath services centers. Student demographics, living situation, most common drinking location, heavy episodic drinking, sensation-seeking disposition and alcohol-impaired driving behavior were assessed. Using a full-form logistic regression model to isolate sensation seeking after adjusting for covariates, sensation seeking remains a statistically significant independent predictor of alcohol-impaired driving behavior (OR=1.52;CI=1.19–1.94; p<0.001). Older, white, sensation-seeking college students who engage in heavy episodic drinking, live off-campus, and go to bars are at highest risk for alcohol-impaired driving behaviors. Interventions should target sensation seekers and environmental factors that mediate the link between sensation seeking and alcohol-impaired driving behaviors.
Sensation seeking; College students; Alcohol; Impaired driving
Educating physicians and other health care professionals to identify and treat patients who drink above recommended limits is an ongoing challenge.
An educational Randomized Control Trial (RCT) was conducted to test the ability of a stand alone training simulation to improve the clinical skills of health care professionals in alcohol screening and intervention. The “virtual reality simulation” combines video, voice recognition and non branching logic to create an interactive environment that allows trainees to encounter complex social cues and realistic interpersonal exchanges. The simulation includes 707 questions and statements and 1207 simulated patient responses.
A sample of 102 health care professionals (10 physicians; 30 physician assistants [PAs] or nurse practitioners [NPs]; 36 medical students; 26 pharmacy, PA or NP students) were randomly assigned to no training (n=51) or a computer based virtual reality intervention (n=51). Subjects in both groups had similar pre-test standardized patient alcohol screening skill scores – 53.2 (experimental) vs. 54.4 (controls), 52.2 vs. 53.7 alcohol brief intervention skills, and 42.9 vs. 43.5 alcohol referral skills. Following repeated practice with the simulation there were significant increases in the scores of the experimental group at 6 months post-randomization compared to the control group for the screening (67.7 vs. 58.1, p<.001) and brief intervention (58.3 vs. 51.6, p<.04) scenarios.
The technology tested in this trial is the first virtual reality simulation to demonstrate an increase in the alcohol screening and brief intervention skills of health care professionals.