NIH Awards $5.4 Million To Boston Medical Center

in Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine
July 23rd, 2008

Contact: Gina M. Digravio, 617-638-8491 |

(Boston)-Researchers at Boston Medical Center (BMC) recently were awarded a $5.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the efficacy of screening and brief intervention in primary care settings for stopping drug use. The grant will fund BMC’s Assessing Screening Plus brief Intervention’s Resulting Efficacy to stop drug use (the ASPIRE) Study. No U.S. study has yet tested the efficacy of brief counseling for drug use in general health settings. Results of this study will provide important data in making decisions about drug use screening and brief interventions in primary care settings.

The goal of ASPIRE is to determine the efficacy of two models for brief intervention for decreasing drug use and consequences in primary care patients. Subjects in one intervention group will be assigned to a standard brief intervention model, conducted by trained health-promotion advocates (currently part of local implementation of a widely disseminated federal program). Subjects in the other group will be assigned to an enhanced, more-intensive intervention model that includes a booster contact and is conducted by master’s-level counselors trained and monitored to perform motivational interviewing. The control group will receive information (i.e., a written list of local resources to help people using drugs) and, at the end of six months, a standard brief intervention if they are still using drugs.

Primary outcomes are abstinence from drug use and drug use consequences including HIV-risk behaviors at 6 months, and receipt of substance dependence treatment (if necessary). The researchers also will compare costs and outcomes associated with each group.

The researchers hypothesize that an enhanced brief intervention, both standard and more intensive models will have efficacy for decreasing drug use and related health consequences (including HIV-risk behaviors), and for increasing receipt of drug treatment. In addition, they believe the enhanced brief intervention will have the greatest efficacy. “Though it may cost more to implement, in the long run it may be cheaper once the potential benefits of reductions in crime and health consequences are considered. Proof of efficacy of brief counseling for drug use could facilitate widespread dissemination of the practice in general health settings where such tools are desperately needed,” said grant recipient Richard Saitz, MD, director, Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit at BMC and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.

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