Pilot Study of a Culturally-adapted Substance Abuse Screening Tool in Youth in Liberia – Internship

in Practicums/Internships
April 7th, 2017

Pilot Study of a Culturally-adapted Substance Abuse Screening Tool in Youth in Liberia

Anticipated Start Date: Fall 2017

Time commitment: ~2 months in-country (Liberia). May also require ~5-10 hrs/week for study preparations prior to travel

Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Christina Borba and Veronica Faller


In the mid-2000s, researchers from BU (who worked at MGH at the time) worked with the government of Liberia and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to create and sign into law the country’s first national mental health policy. In order to inform the development of this policy, researchers conducted a series of qualitative studies to begin understanding the landscape of mental health burden in the country. As part of these needs assessments, researchers found that while substance use and abuse was widespread among adolescents, existing substance use/abuse assessment tools were not culturally appropriate, as there is a spectrum of substance terminologies that are unique to this cultural setting. Researchers recently revised an existing substance use survey that was previously used in Liberia to be more culturally appropriate. The current research project, while early in its development, will be to pilot test this revised substance abuse assessment in in-school adolescents in Monrovia, Liberia. The Practicum student may have the opportunity to travel to Liberia for approximately 1.5-2 months to help conduct this pilot study, including recruitment, data collection and upon return to the U.S., data analysis. Depending on the progress with this project and when the student is able to join the project team, the student may also be involved in obtaining IRB approval and operationalizing the study. We encourage interested students to see external funding, such as from Santander, but there may be funding available for the student’s flight and housing. This practicum opportunity is available starting in late spring 2017 through fall 2017. Interested applicants should submit a resume and cover letter via email to Claire Oppenheim, Research Program Manager for Dept. of Psychiatry at Claire.Oppenheim@bmc.org. Please indicate the specific practicum opportunity for which you are applying in your application email.

*Please note that this Practicum opportunity is early in its development and may undergo significant methodological changes over the summer 2017.