NIH Announces $11M for Social Media, Substance Misuse Research

October 21, 2014 in News

Last week, NIH announced that it is awarding millions of dollars over the next three years to support research on how social media can improve substance misuse prevention and treatment, FierceHealthIT reports (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 10/20).

Award Details

The awards, totaling more than $11 million, are funded through NIH’s Collaborative Research on Addiction, a consortium that includes the:

  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism;
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse; and
  • National Cancer Institute (Allen, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 10/17).

In a release, NIH said researchers will use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to analyze:

  • Behaviors associated with substance misuse;
  • Patterns of use; and
  • Risk factors (FierceHealthIT, 10/20).

Award Recipients

Specifically, the funding will be split amongst 11 recipients, including:                    

  • Annice Kim of the Research Triangle Institute, who will use social media data to monitor electronic cigarette use and policy research;
  • Brenda Curtis of the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia, who will examine social media as a means of predicting relapse or treatment completion;
  • Marya Schulte of University of California-Los Angeles, who will test a social media intervention for parent support;
  • Patricia Cavazos-Rehg of Washington University in St. Louis, who will examine how social media content and engagement affect alcohol and marijuana use;
  • Raminta Daniulaityte of Wright State University, who will test ways to monitor marijuana and synthetic marijuana use through social media;
  • Warren Bickel of Virginia Tech, who will examine social media as therapy development; and
  • Sean Young of UCLA, who will adapt the HOPE social media intervention to address prescription drug misuse.

Wen-Ying Chou — program director at NCI’s Health Communications and Informatics Research Branch — said, “Social media has the potential to fill important gaps in our current understanding of tobacco, alcohol and drug use and to improve the efficacy of substance abuse interventions.” She added, “Social media platforms also have the potential to increase the effectiveness of substance use prevention and treatment efforts by providing technologically mediated solutions” (NIH release, 10/17).

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