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1.  Implementation of smoking cessation guidelines in the emergency department: a qualitative study of staff perceptions 
Background
The US Public Health Service smoking cessation practice guideline specifically recommends that physicians and nurses strongly advise their patients who use tobacco to quit, but the best approach for attaining this goal in the emergency department (ED) remains unknown. The aim of this study was to characterize emergency physicians’ (EPs) and nurses’ (ENs) perceptions of cessation counseling and to identify barriers and facilitators to implementation of the 5 A’s framework (Ask-Advise-Assess-Assist-Arrange) in the ED.
Methods
We conducted semi-structured, face-to-face interviews of 11 EPs and 19 ENs following a pre-post implementation trial of smoking cessation guidelines in two study EDs. We used purposeful sampling to target EPs and ENs with different attitudes toward cessation counseling, based on their responses to a written survey (Decisional Balance Questionnaire). Conventional content analysis was used to inductively characterize the issues raised by study participants and to construct a coding structure, which was then applied to study transcripts.
Results
The main findings of this study converged upon three overarching domains: 1) reactions to the intervention; 2) perceptions of patients’ receptivity to cessation counseling; and 3) perspectives on ED cessation counseling and preventive care. ED staff expressed ambivalence toward the implementation of smoking cessation guidelines. Both ENs and EPs agreed that the delivery of smoking cessation counseling is important, but that it is not always practical in the ED on account of time constraints, the competing demands of acute care, and resistance from patients. Participants also called attention to the need for improved role clarity and teamwork when implementing the 5 A’s in the ED.
Conclusions
There are numerous challenges to the implementation of smoking cessation guidelines in the ED. ENs are generally willing to take the lead in offering brief cessation counseling, but their efforts need to be reinforced by EPs. ED systems need to address workflow, teamwork, and practice policies that facilitate prescription of smoking cessation medication, referral for cessation counseling, and follow-up in primary care. The results of this qualitative evaluation can be used to guide the design of future ED intervention studies.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov registration number NCT00756704
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-9-1
PMCID: PMC3902188  PMID: 24460974
Emergency medical services; Smoking cessation; Attitude of health personnel; Qualitative research; Content analysis
2.  Continuous quality improvement (CQI) in addiction treatment settings: design and intervention protocol of a group randomized pilot study 
Background
Few studies have designed and tested the use of continuous quality improvement approaches in community based substance use treatment settings. Little is known about the feasibility, costs, efficacy, and sustainment of such approaches in these settings.
Methods/Design
A group-randomized trial using a modified stepped wedge design is being used. In the first phase of the study, eight programs, stratified by modality (residential, outpatient) are being randomly assigned to the intervention or control condition. In the second phase, the initially assigned control programs are receiving the intervention to gain additional information about feasibility while sustainment is being studied among the programs initially assigned to the intervention.
Discussion
By using this design in a pilot study, we help inform the field about the feasibility, costs, efficacy and sustainment of the intervention. Determining information at the pilot stage about costs and sustainment provides value for designing future studies and implementation strategies with the goal to reduce the time between intervention development and translation to real world practice settings.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-9-4
PMCID: PMC3906762  PMID: 24467770
Continuous quality improvement; Group randomized controlled pilot trial; Stepped wedge design; Costs; Sustainment; Feasibility
3.  Outcomes among buprenorphine-naloxone primary care patients after Hurricane Sandy 
Background
The extent of damage in New York City following Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 was unprecedented. Bellevue Hospital Center (BHC), a tertiary public hospital, was evacuated and temporarily closed as a result of hurricane-related damages. BHC’s large primary care office-based buprenorphine clinic was relocated to an affiliate public hospital for three weeks. The extent of environmental damage and ensuing service disruption effects on rates of illicit drug, tobacco, and alcohol misuse, buprenorphine medication supply disruptions, or direct resource losses among office-based buprenorphine patients is to date unknown.
Methods
A quantitative and qualitative semi-structured survey was administered to patients in BHC’s primary care buprenorphine program starting one month after the hurricane. Survey domains included: housing and employment disruptions; social and economic support; treatment outcomes (buprenorphine adherence and ability to get care), and tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. Open-ended questions probed general patient experiences related to the storm, coping strategies, and associated disruptions.
Results
There were 132 patients enrolled in the clinic at the time of the storm; of those, 91 patients were recruited to the survey, and 89 completed (98% of those invited). Illicit opioid misuse was rare, with 7 respondents reporting increased heroin or illicit prescription opioid use following Sandy. Roughly half of respondents reported disruption of their buprenorphine-naloxone medication supply post-event, and self-lowering of daily doses to prolong supply was common. Additional buprenorphine was obtained through unscheduled telephone or written refills from relocated Bellevue providers, informally from friends and family, and, more rarely, from drug dealers.
Conclusions
The findings highlight the relative adaptability of public sector office-based buprenorphine treatment during and after a significant natural disaster. Only minimal increases in self-reported substance use were reported despite many disruptions to regular buprenorphine supplies and previous daily doses. Informal supplies of substitute buprenorphine from family and friends was common. Remote telephone refill support and a temporary back-up location that provided written prescription refills and medication dispensing for uninsured patients enabled some patients to maintain an adequate medication supply. Such adaptive strategies to ensure medication maintenance continuity pre/post natural disasters likely minimize poor treatment outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-9-3
PMCID: PMC3940298  PMID: 24467734
4.  HealthCall for the smartphone: technology enhancement of brief intervention in HIV alcohol dependent patients 
Background
Heavy drinking jeopardizes the health of patients in HIV primary care. In alcohol dependent patients in HIV primary care, a technological enhancement of brief intervention, HealthCall administered via interactive voice response (HealthCall-IVR) was effective at reducing heavy drinking. The smartphone offered a technology platform to improve HealthCall.
Methods
Working with input from patients, technology experts, and HIV clinic personnel, we further developed HealthCall, harnessing smartphone technological capacities (HealthCall-S). In a pilot study, we compared rates of HealthCall-S daily use and drinking outcomes in 41 alcohol dependent HIV-infected patients with the 43 alcohol dependent HIV-infected patients who used HealthCall-IVR in our previous efficacy study. Procedures, clinic, personnel, and measures were largely the same in the two studies, and the two groups of patients were demographically similar (~90% minority).
Results
Pilot patients used HealthCall-S a median of 85.0% of the 60 days of treatment, significantly greater than the corresponding rate (63.8%) among comparison patients using HealthCall-IVR (p < .001). Mean end-of-treatment drinks per drinking day was similar in the two groups. Patients were highly satisfied with HealthCall-S (i.e., 92% reported that they liked using HealthCall-S).
Conclusions
Among alcohol dependent patients in HIV primary care, HealthCall delivered via smartphone is feasible, obtains better patient engagement than HealthCall-IVR, and is associated with decreased drinking. In HIV primary care settings, HealthCall-S may offer a way to improve drinking outcomes after brief intervention by extending patient engagement with little additional demands on staff time.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-9-5
PMCID: PMC3943503  PMID: 24533631
HIV; Alcohol; Brief intervention; Technology intervention; Smartphone; Primary care
5.  Inconsistencies between alcohol screening results based on AUDIT-C scores and reported drinking on the AUDIT-C questions: prevalence in two US national samples 
Background
The AUDIT-C is an extensively validated screen for unhealthy alcohol use (i.e. drinking above recommended limits or alcohol use disorder), which consists of three questions about alcohol consumption. AUDIT-C scores ≥4 points for men and ≥3 for women are considered positive screens based on US validation studies that compared the AUDIT-C to “gold standard” measures of unhealthy alcohol use from independent, detailed interviews. However, results of screening—positive or negative based on AUDIT-C scores—can be inconsistent with reported drinking on the AUDIT-C questions. For example, individuals can screen positive based on the AUDIT-C score while reporting drinking below US recommended limits on the same AUDIT-C. Alternatively, they can screen negative based on the AUDIT-C score while reporting drinking above US recommended limits. Such inconsistencies could complicate interpretation of screening results, but it is unclear how often they occur in practice.
Methods
This study used AUDIT-C data from respondents who reported past-year drinking on one of two national US surveys: a general population survey (N = 26,610) and a Veterans Health Administration (VA) outpatient survey (N = 467,416). Gender-stratified analyses estimated the prevalence of AUDIT-C screen results—positive or negative screens based on the AUDIT-C score—that were inconsistent with reported drinking (above or below US recommended limits) on the same AUDIT-C.
Results
Among men who reported drinking, 13.8% and 21.1% of US general population and VA samples, respectively, had screening results based on AUDIT-C scores (positive or negative) that were inconsistent with reported drinking on the AUDIT-C questions (above or below US recommended limits). Among women who reported drinking, 18.3% and 20.7% of US general population and VA samples, respectively, had screening results that were inconsistent with reported drinking.
Limitations
This study did not include an independent interview gold standard for unhealthy alcohol use and therefore cannot address how often observed inconsistencies represent false positive or negative screens.
Conclusions
Up to 21% of people who drink alcohol had alcohol screening results based on the AUDIT-C score that were inconsistent with reported drinking on the same AUDIT-C. This needs to be addressed when training clinicians to use the AUDIT-C.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-9-2
PMCID: PMC3946205  PMID: 24468406
AUDIT-C; Brief intervention; Unhealthy alcohol use; Alcohol screening; Heavy episodic drinking
6.  Feasibility of a computer-assisted alcohol SBIRT program in an urban emergency department: patient and research staff perspectives 
Objectives
The study objective was to assess the feasibility of a computerized alcohol-screening interview (CASI) program to identify at-risk alcohol users among adult emergency department (ED) patients. The study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of implementing a computerized screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) program within a busy urban ED setting, to report on accurate deployment of alcohol screening results, and to assess comprehension and satisfaction with CASI from both patient and research staff perspectives.
Methods
Research assistants (RAs) screened a convenience sample of medically stable ED patients. The RAs brought CASI to patients’ bedsides, and patients entered their own alcohol consumption data. The CASI intervention consisted of an alcohol use screening identification test, a personalized normative feedback profile, NIAAA low-risk drinking educational materials, and treatment referrals (when indicated).
Results
Five hundred seventeen patients were enrolled. The median age of participants was 37 years (range, 21-85 years); 37% were men, 62% were Hispanic, 7% were Caucasian, 30% were African American, and 2% were multiracial. Eighty percent reported regular use of computers at home. Eighty percent of patients approached consented to participate, and 99% of those who started CASI were able to complete it. Two percent of interviews were interrupted for medical tests and procedures, however, no patients required breaks from using CASI for not feeling well. The CASI program accurately provided alcohol risk education to patients 100% of the time. Thirty-two percent of patients in the sample screened positive for at-risk drinking. Sixty percent of patients reported that CASI increased their knowledge of safe drinking limits, 39% reported some likeliness to change their alcohol use, and 28% reported some intention to consult a health care professional about their alcohol use as a result of their screening results. Ninety-three percent reported CASI was easy to use, 93% felt comfortable receiving alcohol education via computer, and 89% liked using CASI. Ninety percent of patients correctly identified their alcohol risk level after participating in CASI. With regard to research staff experience, RAs needed to provide standby assistance to patients during <1% of CASI administrations and needed to troubleshoot computer issues in 4% of interviews. The RAs distributed the correct alcohol risk normative profiles to patients 97% of the time and provided patients with treatment referrals when indicated 81% of the time. The RAs rated patients as “not bothered at all” by using CASI 94% of the time.
Conclusions
This study demonstrates that an ED-based computerized alcohol screening program is both acceptable to patients and effective in educating patients about their alcohol risk level. Additionally, this study demonstrates that few logistical problems related to using computers for these interventions were experienced by research staff: in most cases, staff accurately deployed alcohol risk education to patients, and in all cases, the computer provided accurate education to patients. Computer-assisted SBIRT may represent a significant time-saving measure, allowing EDs to reach larger numbers of patients for alcohol intervention without causing undue clinical burden or interruptions to clinical care. Future studies with follow-up are needed to replicate these results and assess drinking reductions post-intervention.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-2
PMCID: PMC3554507  PMID: 23324597
Computerized alcohol screening; Brief intervention; Emergency department; SBIRT
7.  Alcohol use disorder-related sick leave and mortality: a cohort study 
Background
Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are associated with the highest all-cause mortality rates of all mental disorders. The majority of patients with AUDs never receive inpatient treatment for their AUD, and there is lack of data about their mortality risks despite their constituting the majority of those affected. Absenteeism from work (sick leave) due to an AUD likely signals worsening. In this study, we assessed whether AUD-related sick leave was associated with mortality in a cohort of workers in Germany.
Methods
128,001 workers with health insurance were followed for a mean of 6.4 years. We examined the associations between 1) AUD-related sick leave managed on an outpatient basis and 2) AUD-related psychiatric inpatient treatment, and mortality using survival analysis, and Cox proportional hazard regression models (separately by sex) adjusted for age, education, and job code classification. We also stratified analyses by sick leave related to three groups of alcohol-related conditions (all determined by International Classification of Diseases 9th ed. (ICD-9) codes): alcohol abuse and dependence; alcohol-induced mental disorder; and alcohol-induced medical conditions.
Results
Outpatient-managed AUD-related sick leave was significantly associated with higher mortality (hazard ratio (HR) 2.90 (95% Confidence interval (CI) 2.24-3.75) for men, HR 5.83 (CI 2.90-11.75) for women). The magnitude of the association was similar for receipt of AUD-related psychiatric inpatient treatment (HR 3.2 (CI 2.76-3.78) for men, HR 6.5 (CI 4.41-9.47) for women). Compared to those without the conditions, higher mortality was observed consistently for outpatients and inpatients across the three groups of alcohol-related conditions. Those with alcohol-related medical conditions who had AUD-related psychiatric inpatient treatment appeared to have the highest mortality.
Conclusions
Alcohol use disorder-related sick leave as documented in health insurance records is associated with higher mortality. Such sick leave does not necessarily lead to any specific AUD treatment. Therefore, AUD-related sick leave might be used as a trigger for insurers to intervene by offering AUD treatment to patients to try to reduce their risk of death.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-3
PMCID: PMC3565982  PMID: 23363536
Workers; Alcohol; Mortality; Gender; Addiction; Outpatients; Inpatients
8.  Screening and brief intervention for alcohol and other drug use in primary care: associations between organizational climate and practice 
Background
Numerous studies have demonstrated that positive organizational climates contribute to better work performance. Screening and brief intervention (SBI) for alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use has the potential to reach a broad population of hazardous drug users but has not yet been widely adopted in Brazil’s health care system. We surveyed 149 primary health care professionals in 30 clinics in Brazil who were trained to conduct SBI among their patients. We prospectively measured how often they delivered SBI to evaluate the association between organizational climate and adoption/performance of SBI.
Methods
Organizational climate was measured by the 2009 Organizational Climate Scale for Health Organizations, a scale validated in Brazil that assesses leadership, professional development, team spirit, relationship with the community, safety, strategy, and remuneration. Performance of SBI was measured prospectively by weekly assessments during the three months following training. We also assessed self-reported SBI and self-efficacy for performing SBI at three months post-training. We used inferential statistics to depict and test for the significance of associations.
Results
Teams with better organizational climates implemented SBI more frequently. Organizational climate factors most closely associated with SBI implementation included professional development and relationship with the community. The dimensions of leadership and remuneration were also significantly associated with SBI.
Conclusions
Organizational climate may influence implementation of SBI and ultimately may affect the ability of organizations to identify and address drug use.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-4
PMCID: PMC3598982
Organizational climate; Screening; Brief intervention; Alcohol; Tobacco; Substance abuse
9.  Perceived efficacy of e-cigarettes versus nicotine replacement therapy among successful e-cigarette users: a qualitative approach 
Background
Nicotine is widely recognized as an addictive psychoactive drug. Since most smokers are bio-behaviorally addicted, quitting can be very difficult and is often accompanied by withdrawal symptoms. Research indicates that nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can double quit rates. However, the success rate for quitting remains low. E-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) are battery-powered nicotine delivery devices used to inhale doses of vaporized nicotine from a handheld device similar in shape to a cigarette without the harmful chemicals present in tobacco products. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that e-cigarettes may be effective in helping smokers quit and preventing relapse, but there have been few published qualitative studies, especially among successful e-cigarette users, to support this evidence.
Methods
Qualitative design using focus groups (N = 11); 9 men and 2 women. Focus groups were conducted by posing open-ended questions relating to the use of e-cigarettes, comparison of effectiveness between NRTs and e-cigarettes, barriers to quitting, and reasons for choosing e-cigarettes over other methods.
Results
Five themes emerged that describe users’ perceptions of why e-cigarettes are efficacious in quitting smoking: 1) bio-behavioral feedback, 2) social benefits, 3) hobby elements, 4) personal identity, and 5) distinction between smoking cessation and nicotine cessation. Additionally, subjects reported their experiences with NRTs compared with e-cigarettes, citing negative side effects of NRTs and their ineffectiveness at preventing relapse.
Conclusion
These findings suggest tobacco control practitioners must pay increased attention to the importance of the behavioral and social components of smoking addiction. By addressing these components in addition to nicotine dependence, e-cigarettes appear to help some tobacco smokers transition to a less harmful replacement tool, thereby maintaining cigarette abstinence.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-5
PMCID: PMC3599549  PMID: 23497603
Smoking; E-cigarettes; Addiction; Smoking cessation; Qualitative research; Focus group
10.  Telephone care coordination for smokers in VA mental health clinics: protocol for a hybrid type-2 effectiveness-implementation trial 
Background
This paper describes an innovative protocol for a type-II hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial that is evaluating a smoking cessation telephone care coordination program for Veterans Health Administration (VA) mental-health clinic patients. As a hybrid trial, the protocol combines implementation science and clinical trial methods and outcomes that can inform future cessation studies and the implementation of tobacco cessation programs into routine care. The primary objectives of the trial are (1) to evaluate the process of adapting, implementing, and sustaining a smoking cessation telephone care coordination program in VA mental health clinics, (2) to determine the effectiveness of the program in promoting long-term abstinence from smoking among mental health patients, and (3) to compare the effectiveness of telephone counseling delivered by VA staff with that delivered by state quitlines.
Methods/design
The care coordination program is being implemented at six VA facilities. VA mental health providers refer patients to the program via an electronic medical record consult. Program staff call referred patients to offer enrollment. All patients who enroll receive a self-help booklet, mailed smoking cessation medications, and proactive multi-call telephone counseling. Participants are randomized to receive this counseling from VA staff or their state’s quitline. Four primary implementation strategies are being used to optimize program implementation and sustainability: blended facilitation, provider training, informatics support, and provider feedback. A three-phase formative evaluation is being conducted to identify barriers to, and facilitators for, program implementation and sustainability. A mixed-methods approach is being used to collect quantitative clinical effectiveness data (e.g., self-reported abstinence at six months) and both quantitative and qualitative implementation data (e.g., provider referral rates, coded interviews with providers). Summative data will be analyzed using the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework.
Discussion
This paper describes the rationale and methods of a trial designed to simultaneously study the clinical effectiveness and implementation of a telephone smoking cessation program for smokers using VA mental health clinics. Such hybrid designs are an important methodological design that can shorten the time between the development of an intervention and its translation into routine clinical care.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00724308
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-7
PMCID: PMC3636068  PMID: 23497630
Tobacco; Smoking; Mental health; Intervention; Implementation; Psychiatry
11.  Brief FASD prevention intervention: physicians’ skills demonstrated in a clinical trial in Russia 
Background
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result in a range of adverse pregnancy outcomes including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Risky drinking among Russian women constitutes a significant risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancies (AEP). Russian women report that obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) physicians are the most important source of information about alcohol consumption during pregnancy and developing effective prevention interventions by OB/GYNs is indicated. This is the first study focused on implementation of an AEP prevention intervention at women’s clinics in Russia.
Method
The paper describes the intervention protocol and addresses questions about the feasibility of a brief FASD prevention intervention delivered by OB/GYNs at women’s clinics in Russia. Brief physician intervention guidelines and two evidence-based FASD prevention interventions were utilized to design a brief dual-focused physician intervention (DFBPI) appropriate to Russian OB/GYN care. The questions answered were whether trained OB/GYN physicians could deliver DFBPI during women’s routine clinic visits, whether they maintained skills over time in clinical settings, and which specific intervention components were better maintained. Data were collected as part of a larger study aimed at evaluating effectiveness of DFBPI in reducing AEP risk in non-pregnant women. Methods of monitoring the intervention delivery included fidelity check lists (FCL) with the key components of the intervention completed by physicians and patients and live and audio taped observations of intervention sessions. Physicians (N = 23) and women (N = 372) independently completed FCL, and 78 audiotapes were coded.
Results
The differences between women’s and physicians’ reports on individual items were not significant. Although the majority of physician and patient reports were consistent (N = 305), a discrepancy existed between the reports in 57 cases. Women reported more intervention components missing compared to physicians (p < 0.001). Discussing barriers was the most difficult component for physicians to implement, and OB/GYN demonstrated difficulties in discussing contraception methods.
Conclusions
The results supported the feasibility of the DFBPI in Russia. OB/GYN physicians trained in the DFBPI, monitored, and supported were able to implement and maintain skills during the study. In addition to the alcohol focus, DFBPI training needs to have a sufficient component to improve physicians’ skills in discussing contraception use.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-1
PMCID: PMC3685594  PMID: 23294846
12.  Qualitative analysis of cocaine and heroin users’ main partner sex-risk behavior: is safety in love safety in health? 
Background
In 2009, 27% of the 48,100 estimated new cases of HIV were attributed to heterosexual contact with an infected or at-risk person. Sexually active adults are less likely to use condoms in relationships with main partners than with non-regular partners, despite general knowledge that condom use reduces HIV transmission.
Methods
The purpose of this secondary qualitative analysis was to explore and contextualize perceptions of main partnerships, HIV risk, and attitudes toward condom use within main partner relationships among a subsample of intervention-arm cocaine- and/or heroin-using patients enrolled in a negative trial of brief motivational intervention to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted disease and unsafe sexual behaviors. The open-ended portion of these interview audiotapes consisted of questions about perceptions of risk and attitudes about condom use with main partners. Enrollees were aged 18-54, English or Spanish speaking, and included in this analysis only if they reported having a main partner. We identified codes and elaborated important themes through a standard inductive three step coding process, using HyperRESEARCH™ software.
Results
Among 48 interviewees, 65% were male, half were non-Hispanic white, over 60% were 20-39 years of age, 58% had intravenous drug use (IDU), and 8% were HIV-positive. Participants defined respect, support, trust, and shared child-rearing responsibility as the most valued components of main partner relationships. Condom use was viewed occasionally as a positive means of showing respect with main partners but more often as a sign of disrespect and a barrier to intimacy and affection. Enrollees appraised their partners’ HIV risk in terms of perceptions of physical health, cleanliness, and sexual and HIV testing history. They based decisions regarding condom use mainly on perceived faithfulness, length of involvement, availability of condoms, and pregnancy desirability.
Conclusions
Risk appraisal was commonly based on appearance and subjective factors, and condom use with main sexual partners was described most often as a demonstration of lack of trust and intimacy.
Trial registration
NCT01379599
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-10
PMCID: PMC3698184  PMID: 23618318
HIV; Main partner; Heterosexual transmission; Sexual profiling; Heroin; Cocaine; Intravenous drug use (IDU)
13.  Prescription of topiramate to treat alcohol use disorders in the Veterans Health Administration 
Background
As a quality improvement metric, the US Veterans Health Administration (VHA) monitors the proportion of patients with alcohol use disorders (AUD) who receive FDA approved medications for alcohol dependence (naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram). Evidence supporting the off-label use of the antiepileptic medication topiramate to treat alcohol dependence may be as strong as these approved medications. However, little is known about the extent to which topiramate is used in clinical practice. The goal of this study was to describe and examine the overall use, facility-level variation in use, and patient -level predictors of topiramate prescription for patients with AUD in the VHA.
Methods
Using national VHA administrative data in a retrospective cohort study, we examined time trends in topiramate use from fiscal years (FY) 2009–2012, and predictors of topiramate prescription in 375,777 patients identified with AUD (ICD-9-CM codes 303.9x or 305.0x) treated in 141 VHA facilities in FY 2011.
Results
Among VHA patients with AUD, rates of topiramate prescription have increased from 0.99% in FY 2009 to 1.95% in FY 2012, although substantial variation across facilities exists. Predictors of topiramate prescription were female sex, young age, alcohol dependence diagnoses, engagement in both mental health and addiction specialty care, and psychiatric comorbidity.
Conclusions
Veterans Health Administration facilities are monitored regarding the extent to which patients with AUD are receiving FDA-approved pharmacotherapy. Not including topiramate in the metric, which is prescribed more often than acamprosate and disulfiram combined, may underestimate the extent to which VHA patients at specific facilities and overall are receiving pharmacotherapy for AUD.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-12
PMCID: PMC3716908  PMID: 23835352
Alcohol use disorders; Addiction; Pharmacotherapy; Topiramate; Pharmacotherapy utilization; Veterans
14.  The hospital outpatient alcohol project (HOAP): protocol for an individually randomized, parallel-group superiority trial of electronic alcohol screening and brief intervention versus screening alone for unhealthy alcohol use 
Background
Electronic screening and brief intervention (e-SBI) is a promising alternative to screening and brief intervention by health-care providers, but its efficacy in the hospital outpatient setting, which serves a large proportion of the population, has not been established. The aim of this study is to estimate the effect of e-SBI in hospital outpatients with hazardous or harmful drinking.
Methods/Design
This randomized controlled trial will be conducted in the outpatient department of a large tertiary referral hospital in Newcastle (population 540,000), Australia. Some 772 adults with appointments at a broad range of medical and surgical outpatient clinics who score 5–9 inclusive on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C) subscale will be randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to electronic alcohol screening alone (control) or to e-SBI. As randomization will be effected by computer, researchers and participants (who will be invited to participate in a study of alcohol use over time) will be blinded to group assignment. The primary analysis will be based on the intention-to-treat principle and compare weekly volume (grams of alcohol) and the full AUDIT score with a six-month reference period between the groups six months post randomization. Secondary outcomes, assessed six and 12 months after randomization, will include drinking frequency, typical occasion quantity, proportion who report binge drinking, proportion who report heavy drinking, and health-care utilization.
Discussion
If e-SBI is efficacious in outpatient settings, it offers the prospect of systematically and sustainably reaching a large number of hazardous and harmful drinkers, many of whom do not otherwise seek or receive help.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12612000905864.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-14
PMCID: PMC3766680  PMID: 24004498
Alcohol; Screening; Brief intervention; Internet; Intervention; Clinical trials; Hospital outpatients
15.  Effects of therapeutic goal management (TGM) on treatment attendance and drug abstinence among men with co-occurring substance use and axis I mental disorders who are homeless: results of the Birmingham EARTH program 
Purpose
This study describes the implementation and impact of Therapeutic Goal Management (TGM) in a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)-sponsored demonstration project entitled Enhanced Addiction Recovery through Housing (EARTH).
Participants
The sample included 28 male participants followed at six months who completed some treatment. Forty-three percent were Caucasian, and 57% were African American. The average age of participants was 42 years.
Design
The relationships between TGM goal achievement, treatment attendance, and drug abstinence outcomes were studied among EARTH program participants who were homeless and met criteria for co-occurring substance use and severe DSM-IV Axis I mental disorders.
Results
The results revealed an overall drug abstinence rate of 72.4% over six months and significant positive relationships between TGM goal achievement and drug abstinence (r = 0.693) and TGM goal achievement and treatment attendance (r = 0.843).
Conclusions
This research demonstrated the relationship and potential positive impact of systematically setting, monitoring, and reinforcing personalized goals in multiple life areas on drug abstinence and treatment attendance outcomes among persons who are homeless with co-occurring substance use and other Axis I disorders in a integrated community service delivery program.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-17
PMCID: PMC3829098  PMID: 24499617
Substance abuse treatment; Severe mental illness; Homelessness; Therapeutic goal management
16.  Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for offenders: protocol for a pragmatic randomized trial 
Background
Although screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based technique that, in some health-care settings, has been shown to cost-effectively reduce alcohol and drug use, research on the efficacy of SBIRT among criminal offender populations is limited. Such populations have a high prevalence of drug and alcohol use but limited access to intervention, and many are at risk for post-release relapse and recidivism. Thus, there exists a need for treatment options for drug-involved offenders of varying risk levels to reduce risky behaviors or enter treatment.
Methods/design
This protocol describes an assessment of SBIRT feasibility and effectiveness in a criminal justice environment. Eight-hundred persons will be recruited from a large metropolitan jail, with the experimental group receiving an intervention depending on risk level and the control group receiving minimal intervention. The intervention will assess the risk level for drug and alcohol misuse by inmates, providing those at low or medium risk a brief intervention in the jail and referring those at high risk to community treatment following release. In addition, a brief treatment (eight-session) option will be available. Using data from a 12-month follow-up interview, the primary study outcomes are a reduction in drug and alcohol use, while secondary outcomes include participation in treatment, rearrest, quality of life, reduction in HIV risk behaviors, and costs of SBIRT.
Expected value
Individual reductions in alcohol and drug use can have significant effects on public health and safety when observed over a large population at risk for substance-use problems. With wider dissemination statewide or nationwide, a relatively low-cost intervention such as SBIRT could offer demonstrated benefits in this population.
Trial registration
Clinical Trials Government Identifier, NCT01683643.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-16
PMCID: PMC3829109  PMID: 24499609
Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT); Offenders; Jail; Protocol; Pragmatic randomized trial
17.  Perception of tobacco, cannabis, and alcohol use of others is associated with one’s own use 
Background
Interventions have been developed to reduce overestimations of substance use among others, especially for alcohol and among students. Nevertheless, there is a lack of knowledge on misperceptions of use for substances other than alcohol. We studied the prevalence of misperceptions of use for tobacco, cannabis, and alcohol and whether the perception of tobacco, cannabis, and alcohol use by others is associated with one’s own use.
Methods
Participants (n = 5216) in a cohort study from a census of 20-year-old men (N = 11,819) estimated the prevalence of tobacco and cannabis use among peers of the same age and sex and the percentage of their peers drinking more alcohol than they did. Using the census data, we determined whether participants overestimated, accurately estimated, or underestimated substance use by others. Regression models were used to compare substance use by those who overestimated or underestimated peer substance with those who accurately estimated peer use. Other variables included in the analyses were the presence of close friends with alcohol or other drug problems and family history of substance use.
Results
Tobacco use by others was overestimated by 46.1% and accurately estimated by 37.3% of participants. Cannabis use by others was overestimated by 21.8% and accurately estimated by 31.6% of participants. Alcohol use by others was overestimated by more than half (53.4%) of participants and accurately estimated by 31.0%. In multivariable models, compared with participants who accurately estimated tobacco use by others, those who overestimated it reported smoking more cigarettes per week (incidence rate ratio [IRR] [95% CI], 1.17 [range, 1.05, 1.32]). There was no difference in the number of cigarettes smoked per week between those underestimating and those accurately estimating tobacco use by others (IRR [95% CI], 0.99 [range, 0.84, 1.17]). Compared with participants accurately estimating cannabis use by others, those who overestimated it reported more days of cannabis use per month (IRR [95% CI], 1.43 [range, 1.21, 1.70]), whereas those who underestimated it reported fewer days of cannabis use per month (IRR [95% CI], 0.62 [range, 0.23, 0.75]). Compared with participants accurately estimating alcohol use by others, those who overestimated it reported consuming more drinks per week (IRR [95% CI], 1.57 [range, 1.43, 1.72]), whereas those who underestimated it reported consuming fewer drinks per week (IRR [95% CI], 0.41 [range, 0.34, 0.50]).
Conclusions
Perceptions of substance use by others are associated with one’s own use. In particular, overestimating use by others is frequent among young men and is associated with one’s own greater consumption. This association is independent of the substance use environment, indicating that, even in the case of proximity to a heavy-usage group, perception of use by others may influence one’s own use. If preventive interventions are to be based on normative feedback, and their aim is to reduce overestimations of use by others, then the prevalence of overestimation indicates that they may be of benefit to roughly half the population; or, in the case of cannabis, to as few as 20%. Such interventions should take into account differing strengths of association across substances.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-15
PMCID: PMC3853223  PMID: 24499600
Overestimation; Substance use; Perception; Alcohol; Tobacco; Cannabis
18.  Age and sharing of needle injection equipment in a cohort of Massachusetts injection drug users: an observational study 
Background
Hepatitis C infection (HCV) among individuals aged 15–24 years has increased in Massachusetts, likely due to injection drug use. The prevalence of injection equipment sharing (sharing) and its association with age was examined in a cohort of out-of-treatment Massachusetts substance users.
Methods
This analysis included baseline data from a behavioral intervention with substance users. Younger and older (<25 versus ≥25 years) injection drug users were compared on demographic characteristics, substance use practices, including factors present during the most recent sharing event (“event-level factors”), and HCV testing history.
Results
Sharing was reported by 41% of the 484 individuals who reported injection drug use in the past 30 days. Prevalence of sharing varied by age (50% <25 years old versus 38% ≥25 years, p = 0.02). In a multivariable logistic regression model younger versus older individuals had twice the odds of sharing (95% CI = 1.26, 3.19). During their most recent sharing event, fewer younger individuals than older had their own drugs available (50% versus 75%, p < 0.001); other injection event-level factors did not vary by age. In the presence of PTSD, history of exchanging sex for money, or not being US born, prevalence of sharing by older users was higher and was similar to that of younger users, such that there was no association between age and sharing.
Conclusions
In this cohort of injection drug users, younger age was associated with higher prevalence of sharing, but only in the absence of certain stressors. Harm reduction efforts might benefit from intervening on mental health and other stressors in addition to substance use. Study findings suggest a particular need to address the dangers of sharing with young individuals initiating injection drug use.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-20
PMCID: PMC3880095  PMID: 24330568
Injection drug use; Injection equipment sharing; Young age; Hepatitis C
20.  Patient preferences for emergency department-initiated tobacco interventions: a multicenter cross-sectional study of current smokers 
Background
The emergency department (ED) visit provides a great opportunity to initiate interventions for smoking cessation. However, little is known about ED patient preferences for receiving smoking cessation interventions or correlates of interest in tobacco counseling.
Methods
ED patients at 10 US medical centers were surveyed about preferences for hypothetical smoking cessation interventions and specific counseling styles. Multivariable linear regression determined correlates of receptivity to bedside counseling.
Results
Three hundred seventy-five patients were enrolled; 46% smoked at least one pack of cigarettes per day, and 11% had a smoking-related diagnosis. Most participants (75%) reported interest in at least one intervention. Medications were the most popular (e.g., nicotine replacement therapy, 54%), followed by linkages to hotlines or other outpatient counseling (33-42%), then counseling during the ED visit (33%). Counseling styles rated most favorably involved individualized feedback (54%), avoidance skill-building (53%), and emphasis on autonomy (53%). In univariable analysis, age (r = 0.09), gender (average Likert score = 2.75 for men, 2.42 for women), education (average Likert score = 2.92 for non-high school graduates, 2.44 for high school graduates), and presence of smoking-related symptoms (r = 0.10) were significant at the p < 0.10 level and thus were retained for the final model. In multivariable linear regression, male gender, lower education, and smoking-related symptoms were independent correlates of increased receptivity to ED-based smoking counseling.
Conclusions
In this multicenter study, smokers reported receptivity to ED-initiated interventions. However, there was variability in individual preferences for intervention type and counseling styles. To be effective in reducing smoking among its patients, the ED should offer a range of tobacco intervention options.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-7-4
PMCID: PMC3414814  PMID: 22966410
Smoking; Tobacco; Cigarettes; Emergency medicine; Counseling; Patient preference
21.  Return to drug use and overdose after release from prison: a qualitative study of risk and protective factors 
Background
Former inmates are at high risk for death from drug overdose, especially in the immediate post-release period. The purpose of the study is to understand the drug use experiences, perceptions of overdose risk, and experiences with overdose among former prisoners.
Methods
This qualitative study included former prison inmates (N = 29) who were recruited within two months after their release. Interviewers conducted in-person, semi-structured interviews which explored participants' experiences and perceptions. Transcripts were analyzed utilizing a team-based method of inductive analysis.
Results
The following themes emerged: 1) Relapse to drugs and alcohol occurred in a context of poor social support, medical co-morbidity and inadequate economic resources; 2) former inmates experienced ubiquitous exposure to drugs in their living environments; 3) intentional overdose was considered "a way out" given situational stressors, and accidental overdose was perceived as related to decreased tolerance; and 4) protective factors included structured drug treatment programs, spirituality/religion, community-based resources (including self-help groups), and family.
Conclusions
Former inmates return to environments that strongly trigger relapse to drug use and put them at risk for overdose. Interventions to prevent overdose after release from prison may benefit from including structured treatment with gradual transition to the community, enhanced protective factors, and reductions of environmental triggers to use drugs.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-7-3
PMCID: PMC3414824  PMID: 22966409
Drug use; Overdose; Prisoners; Relapse; Prison re-entry
22.  Risk of future trauma based on alcohol screening scores: A two-year prospective cohort study among US veterans 
Background
Severe alcohol misuse as measured by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test–Consumption (AUDIT-C) is associated with increased risk of future fractures and trauma-related hospitalizations. This study examined the association between AUDIT-C scores and two-year risk of any type of trauma among US Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients and assessed whether risk varied by age or gender.
Methods
Outpatients (215, 924 male and 9168 female) who returned mailed AUDIT-C questionnaires were followed for 24 months in the medical record for any International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-9) code related to trauma. The two-year prevalence of trauma was examined as a function of AUDIT-C scores, with low-level drinking (AUDIT-C 1–4) as the reference group. Men and women were examined separately, and age-stratified analyses were performed.
Results
Having an AUDIT-C score of 9–12 (indicating severe alcohol misuse) was associated with increased risk for trauma. Mean (SD) ages for men and women were 68.2 (11.5) and 57.2 (15.8), respectively. Age-stratified analyses showed that, for men ≤50 years, those with AUDIT-C scores ≥9 had an increased risk for trauma compared with those with AUDIT-C scores in the 1–4 range (adjusted prevalence, 25.7% versus 20.8%, respectively; OR = 1.24; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03–1.50). For men ≥65 years with average comorbidity and education, those with AUDIT-C scores of 5–8 (adjusted prevalence, 7.9% versus 7.4%; OR = 1.16; 95% CI, 1.02–1.31) and 9–12 (adjusted prevalence 11.1% versus 7.4%; OR = 1.68; 95% CI, 1.30–2.17) were at significantly increased risk for trauma compared with men ≥65 years in the reference group. Higher AUDIT-C scores were not associated with increased risk of trauma among women.
Conclusions
Men with severe alcohol misuse (AUDIT-C 9–12) demonstrate an increased risk of trauma. Men ≥65 showed an increased risk for trauma at all levels of alcohol misuse (AUDIT-C 5–8 and 9–12). These findings may be used as part of an evidence-based brief intervention for alcohol use disorders. More research is needed to understand the relationship between AUDIT-C scores and risk of trauma in women.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-7-6
PMCID: PMC3414833  PMID: 22966411
Alcohol; Trauma; Fracture; AUDIT-C; Age; Gender; Screening; Women
23.  Just call it “treatment” 
Although many in the addiction treatment field use the term “medication-assisted treatment” to describe a combination of pharmacotherapy and counseling to address substance dependence, research has demonstrated that opioid agonist treatment alone is effective in patients with opioid dependence, regardless of whether they receive counseling. The time has come to call pharmacotherapy for such patients just “treatment”. An explicit acknowledgment that medication is an essential first-line component in the successful management of opioid dependence.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-7-10
PMCID: PMC3507631  PMID: 23186149
Buprenorphine; Behavioral counseling; Methadone; Opioid dependence; Substance abuse counseling; Substance abuse treatment.
24.  Motivation rulers for smoking cessation: a prospective observational examination of construct and predictive validity 
Background
Although popular clinically, the psychometric properties of motivation rulers for tobacco cessation are unknown. This study examined the psychometric properties of rulers assessing importance, readiness, and confidence in tobacco cessation.
Methods
This observational study of current smokers was conducted at 10 US emergency departments (EDs). Subjects were assessed during their ED visit (baseline) and reassessed two weeks later. We examined intercorrelations between the rulers as well as their construct and predictive validity. Hierarchical multinomial logistic regressions were used to examine the rulers’ predictive ability after controlling for covariables.
Results
We enrolled 375 subjects. The correlations between the three rulers ranged from 0.50 (between Important and Confidence) to 0.70 (between Readiness and Confidence); all were significant (p < 0.001). Individuals in the preparation stage displayed the highest motivation-ruler ratings (all rulers F 2, 363 ≥ 43; p < 0.001). After adjusting for covariables, each of the rulers significantly improved prediction of smoking behavior change. The strength of their predictive ability was on par with that of stage of change.
Conclusion
Our results provide preliminary support for the psychometric soundness of the importance, readiness, and confidence rulers.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-7-8
PMCID: PMC3507634  PMID: 23186265
Tobacco; Tobacco cessation; Motivation; Stage of change; Reliability; Validity
25.  A randomized trial evaluating an mHealth system to monitor and enhance adherence to pharmacotherapy for alcohol use disorders 
Background
Nonadherence to prescribed medication regimens is a substantial barrier to the pharmacological management of alcohol use disorders. The availability of low-cost, sustainable interventions that maximize medication adherence would likely lead to improved treatment outcomes. Mobile health (mHealth) technologies are increasingly being adopted as a method of delivering behavioral health interventions and represent a promising tool for adherence interventions. We are evaluating a cell-phone–based intervention called AGATE that seeks to enhance adherence with regular text-messaging.
Methods/Design
A randomized controlled effectiveness trial in the context of an eight-week open label naltrexone efficacy trial delivered in a naturalistic clinical setting. Treatment-seeking heavy drinkers (N = 105) are currently being recruited and randomly assigned to the AGATE intervention or a control condition. Daily measures of alcohol use and medication side effects are being recorded via cell phone in both conditions. Additionally, participants randomized to the AGATE condition receive medication reminders via SMS text message according to a schedule that adjusts according to their level of adherence.
Discussion
Results from this trial will provide initial information about the feasibility and efficacy of mHealth interventions for improving adherence to alcohol pharmacotherapies.
Trial Registration
NCT01349985.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-7-9
PMCID: PMC3507635  PMID: 23186301
Alcohol dependence; Medication adherence; mHealth; Internet intervention; Opioid antagonist

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