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    Research News Roundup: April 6, 2023

    A Scoping Review of Implementation Considerations for Harm Reduction Vending Machines

    Journal: Harm Reduction Journal, 2023, doi: 10.1186/s12954-023-00765-2

    Authors: Erin Russell, Jessica Johnson, Zach Kosinski, Callie Kaplan, Nicole Barnes, Sean Allen & Emily Haroz


    Background: Community-based harm reduction vending machines (HRVM) are not new to the field of public health; numerous countries have implemented them in response to the needs of people who use drugs over the last three decades. However, until recently, few existed in the United States. Given the rapidity with which communities are standing up harm reduction vending machines, there is a pressing need for a consolidated examination of implementation evidence. This scoping review summarizes existing literature using multiple implementation science frameworks.

    Methods: The scoping review was conducted in five stages including (1) Identify the research question; (2) Identify relevant studies; (3) Select the publications based on inclusion/exclusion criteria; (4) Review and extract data; and, (5) Summarize results. PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science were searched and authors screened publications in English from any year. Data were extracted by applying implementation constructs from RE-AIM and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Both frameworks provided a useful lens through which to develop knowledge about the facilitators and barriers to HRVM implementation. The review is reported according to PRISMA guidelines.

    Results: After applying the full inclusion and exclusion criteria, including the intervention of interest (“vending machines”) and population of interest (“people who use drugs”), a total of 22 studies were included in the scoping review. None of the studies reported on race, making it difficult to retroactively apply a racial equity lens. Among those articles that examined effectiveness, the outcomes were mixed between clear effectiveness and inconclusive results. Evidence emerged, however, to address all CFIR constructs, and positive outcomes were observed from HRVM’s after-hour availability and increased program reach.

    Recommendations: HRVM implementation best practices include maximizing accessibility up to 24 h, 7 days a week, offering syringe disposal options, ensuring capability of data collection, and allowing for anonymity of use. Organizations that implement HRVM should establish strong feedback loops between them, their program participants, and the broader community upfront. Considerations for future research include rigorous study designs to evaluate effectiveness outcomes (e.g. reduced drug overdose deaths) and examination of HRVM reach among ethnic and racial communities.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Association Between Daily Alcohol Intake and Risk of All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-analyses

    Journal: JAMA Network Open, 2023, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.6185

    Authors: Jinhui Zhao, Tim Stockwell, Tim Naimi, Sam Churchill, James Clay & Adam Sherk


    Importance: A previous meta-analysis of the association between alcohol use and all-cause mortality found no statistically significant reductions in mortality risk at low levels of consumption compared with lifetime nondrinkers. However, the risk estimates may have been affected by the number and quality of studies then available, especially those for women and younger cohorts.

    Objective: To investigate the association between alcohol use and all-cause mortality, and how sources of bias may change results.

    Data Sources: A systematic search of PubMed and Web of Science was performed to identify studies published between January 1980 and July 2021.

    Study Selection: Cohort studies were identified by systematic review to facilitate comparisons of studies with and without some degree of controls for biases affecting distinctions between abstainers and drinkers. The review identified 107 studies of alcohol use and all-cause mortality published from 1980 to July 2021.

    Data Extraction and Synthesis: Mixed linear regression models were used to model relative risks, first pooled for all studies and then stratified by cohort median age (<56 vs ≥56 years) and sex (male vs female). Data were analyzed from September 2021 to August 2022.

    Main Outcomes and Measures: Relative risk estimates for the association between mean daily alcohol intake and all-cause mortality.

    Results: There were 724 risk estimates of all-cause mortality due to alcohol intake from the 107 cohort studies (4 838 825 participants and 425 564 deaths available) for the analysis. In models adjusting for potential confounding effects of sampling variation, former drinker bias, and other prespecified study-level quality criteria, the meta-analysis of all 107 included studies found no significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality among occasional (>0 to <1.3 g of ethanol per day; relative risk [RR], 0.96; 95% CI, 0.86-1.06; P = .41) or low-volume drinkers (1.3-24.0 g per day; RR, 0.93; P = .07) compared with lifetime nondrinkers. In the fully adjusted model, there was a nonsignificantly increased risk of all-cause mortality among drinkers who drank 25 to 44 g per day (RR, 1.05; P = .28) and significantly increased risk for drinkers who drank 45 to 64 and 65 or more grams per day (RR, 1.19 and 1.35; P < .001). There were significantly larger risks of mortality among female drinkers compared with female lifetime nondrinkers (RR, 1.22; P = .03).

    Conclusions and Relevance: In this updated systematic review and meta-analysis, daily low or moderate alcohol intake was not significantly associated with all-cause mortality risk, while increased risk was evident at higher consumption levels, starting at lower levels for women than men.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    "Just Fighting for My Life to Stay Alive": A Qualitative Investigation of Barriers and Facilitators to Community Re-Entry among People with Opioid Use Disorder and Incarceration Histories

    Journal: Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 2023, doi: 10.1186/s13722-023-00377-y

    Authors: Kim A. Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Marina Gaeta Gazzola, Lindsay M. S. Oberleitner, Anthony Eller, Lynn M. Madden, Ruthanne Marcus, … & Declan T. Barry


    Background: During the period of community re-entry immediately following release from jail or prison, individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) face structural barriers to successful re-entry and high risk of overdose. Few published studies investigate experiences in the immediate period (i.e., first 24 h) of re-entry among people with OUD.

    Aim: To understand the barriers and facilitators to treatment and reintegration of people with OUD during the initial transition from carceral settings back into the community.

    Methods: From January-December 2017, we conducted 42 semi-structured qualitative interviews with patients with a history of incarceration who were receiving methadone at a not-for-profit, low-barrier opioid treatment program. Interviews probed participants’ community re-entry experiences immediately following incarceration. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a Thematic Analysis approach.

    Results: The main themes described the experiences during the 24 h following release, reacclimating and navigating re-entry barriers, and re-entry preparedness and planning. Participants noted the initial 24 h to be a period of risk for returning to substance use or an opportunity to engage with OUD treatment as well as a tenuous period where many lacked basic resources such as shelter or money. When discussing the subsequent re-entry period, participants noted social challenges and persistent barriers to stable housing and employment. Participants overall described feeling unprepared for release and suggested improvements including formal transition programs, improved education, and support to combat the risk of overdose and return to substance use after incarceration.

    Conclusions: In this study that qualitatively examines the experiences of people with incarceration histories and OUD enrolled in methadone treatment, we found that participants faced many barriers to community re-entry, particularly surrounding basic resources and treatment engagement. Participants reported feeling unprepared for release but made concrete suggestions for interventions that might improve the barriers they encountered. Future work should examine the incorporation of these perspectives of people with lived experience into the development of transition programs or re-entry classes.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Fentanyl-driven Acceleration of Racial, Gender and Geographical Disparities in Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States

    Journal: PLOS Glob Public Health, 2023, doi: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0000769

    Authors: Maria R. D’Orsogna, Lucas Böttcher & Tom Chou


    We examine trends in drug overdose deaths by race, gender, and geography in the United States during the period 2013-2020. Race and gender specific crude rates were extracted from the final National Vital Statistics System multiple cause-of-death mortality files for several jurisdictions and used to calculate the male-to-female ratios of crude rates between 2013 and 2020. We established 2013-2019 temporal trends for four major drug types: psychostimulants with addiction potential (T43.6, such as methamphetamines); heroin (T40.1); natural and semi-synthetic opioids (T40.2, such as those contained in prescription pain-killers); synthetic opioids (T40.4, such as fentanyl and its derivatives) through a quadratic regression and determined whether changes in the pandemic year 2020 were statistically significant. We also identified which race, gender and states were most impacted by drug overdose deaths. Nationwide, the year 2020 saw statistically significant increases in overdose deaths from all drug categories except heroin, surpassing predictions based on 2013-2019 trends. Crude rates for Black individuals of both genders surpassed those for White individuals for fentanyl and psychostimulants in 2018, creating a gap that widened through 2020. In some regions, mortality among White persons decreased while overdose deaths for Black persons kept rising. The largest 2020 mortality statistic is for Black males in the District of Columbia, with a record 134 overdose deaths per 100,000 due to fentanyl, 9.4 times more than the fatality rate among White males. Male overdose crude rates in 2020 remain larger than those of females for all drug categories except in Idaho, Utah and Arkansas where crude rates of overdose deaths by natural and semisynthetic opioids for females exceeded those of males. Drug prevention, mitigation and no-harm strategies should include racial, geographical and gender-specific efforts, to better identify and serve at-risk groups.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Association of Electronic Cigarette Use by US Adolescents with Subsequent Persistent Cigarette Smoking

    Journal: JAMA Network Open, 2023, doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.4885

    Authors: Ruoyan Sun, David Méndez & Kenneth E. Warner


    Importance: Many studies have reported a positive association of youth electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use with subsequent cigarette smoking initiation, but it remains unclear whether e-cigarette use is associated with continued cigarette smoking after initiation.

    Objective: To assess the association of youth baseline e-cigarette use with their continued cigarette smoking 2 years after initiation.

    Design, Setting, and Participants: The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study is a national longitudinal cohort study. This sample consisted of youth who participated in waves 3, 4, and 5 of the study (wave 3 was from October 2015 to October 2016, wave 4 was from December 2016 to January 2018, and wave 5 was from December 2018 to November 2019) and had never used cigarettes (cigarette-naive) by wave 3. The current analysis used multivariable logistic regressions in August 2022 to assess the association between e-cigarette use among cigarette-naive adolescents aged 12 to 17 years in 2015 and 2016 and subsequent continued cigarette smoking. PATH uses audio computer-assisted self-interviewing and computer-assisted personal interviewing to collect data.

    Exposures: Ever and current (past 30-day) use of e-cigarettes in wave 3.

    Main Outcomes and Measures: Continued cigarette smoking in wave 5 after initiating smoking in wave 4.

    Results: The current sample included 8671 adolescents who were cigarette naive in wave 3 and also participated in waves 4 and 5; 4823 of the participants (55.4%) were aged 12 to 14 years, 4454 (51.1%) were male, and 3763 (51.0%) were non-Hispanic White. Overall, regardless of e-cigarette use, few adolescents (362 adolescents [4.1%]) initiated cigarette smoking at wave 4, and even fewer (218 participants [2.5%]) continued smoking at wave 5. Controlling for multiple covariates, the adjusted odds ratio of baseline ever e-cigarette use, compared with never e-cigarette use, was 1.81 (95% CI, 1.03 to 3.18) for continued smoking measured as past 30-day smoking at wave 5. However, the adjusted risk difference (aRD) was small and not significant. The aRD was 0.88 percentage point (95% CI, -0.13 to 1.89 percentage points) for continued smoking, with the absolute risk being 1.19% (95% CI, 0.79% to 1.59%) for never e-cigarette users and 2.07% (95% CI, 1.01% to 3.13%) for ever e-cigarette users. Similar results were found using an alternative measure of continued smoking (lifetime ≥100 cigarettes and current smoking at wave 5) and using baseline current e-cigarette use as the exposure measure.

    Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, absolute and relative measures of risks yielded findings suggesting very different interpretations of the association. Although there were statistically significant odds ratios of continued smoking comparing baseline e-cigarette users with nonusers, the minor risk differences between them, along with the small absolute risks, suggest that few adolescents are likely to continue smoking after initiation regardless of baseline e-cigarette use.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.