Research News Roundup: August 18, 2022

    Impact of Existing and Potential E-Cigarette Flavor Restrictions on E-Cigarette Use among Young Adult E-Cigarette Users in 6 US Metropolitan Areas

    Journal: Preventive Medicine Reports, 2022, doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2022.101901

    Authors: Katelyn F. Romm, Lisa Henriksen, Jidong Huang, Daisy Le, Michelle Clausen, Zongshuan Duan, Caroline Fuss, Breesa Bennett & Carla J. Berg


    Given the 2020 federal restrictions on flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes and increasing state/local flavored e-cigarette sales restrictions, this mixed-methods study examined US young adult e-cigarette users’ responses to flavored e-cigarette sales restrictions (e.g., changes in use, products used, access). We descriptively analyzed Fall 2020 survey data from 726 past 6-month e-cigarette users (Mage = 24.15, 51.1% female, 4.4% Black, 10.2% Asian, 12.1% Hispanic, 35.5% sexual minority), and qualitatively analyzed Spring 2021 semi-structured interview data among 40 participants (Mage = 26.30, 35.0% female, 5.0% Black, 22.5% Asian, 12.5% Hispanic, 45.0% sexual minority). Across all participants (i.e., survey and interview participants), [greater than or equal to] 80% most commonly used non-tobacco flavors; [greater than or equal to] 40% used tank-based devices. Survey participants most commonly reported that the federal restrictions did not impact their use: 35.8% used available flavors (i.e., tobacco, menthol), 30.4% continued to use tank-based e-cigarettes, and 10.1% switched to tank-based e-cigarettes. Only 8.4% reduced their e-cigarette use. Among interview participants, some indicated no impact on their e-cigarette use because they stocked up or obtained flavors from alternative sources (e.g., online). Some filled their own pods with e-liquids, switched to menthol/tobacco flavors, switched e-cigarette devices or brands, and/or reduced use. Regarding the anticipated impact of comprehensive flavor restrictions, some participants reported that they would: 1) quit vaping; 2) switch to cigarettes; or 3) not change their use (e.g., stock up on flavors). The potential unintended reactions to flavored e-cigarette sales restrictions (e.g., continued use of flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes) underscore the need for ongoing surveillance of retail and consumer behavior to inform policy and compliance/enforcement efforts.

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

    Illicit Substance Use and the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States: A Scoping Review and Characterization of Research Evidence in Unprecedented Times

    Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 2022, doi: 10.3390/ijerph19148883

    Authors: Anh Truc Vo, Thomas Patton, Amy Peacock, Sarah Larney & Annick Borquez


    We carried out a scoping review to characterize the primary quantitative evidence addressing changes in key individual/structural determinants of substance use risks and health outcomes over the first two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States (US). We systematically queried the LitCovid database for US-only studies without date restrictions (up to 6 August 2021). We extracted quantitative data from articles addressing changes in: (a) illicit substance use frequency/contexts/behaviors, (b) illicit drug market dynamics, (c) access to treatment and harm reduction services, and (d) illicit substance use-related health outcomes/harms. The majority of 37 selected articles were conducted within metropolitan locations and leveraged historical timeseries medical records data. Limited available evidence supported changes in frequency/behaviors/contexts of substance use. Few studies point to increases in fentanyl and reductions in heroin availability. Policy-driven interventions to lower drug use treatment thresholds conferred increased access within localized settings but did not seem to significantly prevent broader disruptions nationwide. Substance use-related emergency medical services’ presentations and fatal overdose data showed a worsening situation. Improved study designs/data sources, backed by enhanced routine monitoring of illicit substance use trends, are needed to characterize substance use-related risks and inform effective responses during public health emergencies.

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

    Effect of Police Action on Low-Barrier Substance Use Disorder Service Utilization

    Journal: Harm Reduction Journal, 2022, doi: 10.1186/s12954-022-00668-8

    Authors: Karrin Weisenthal, Simeon D. Kimmel, Jessica Kehoe, Marc R. Larochelle, Alexander Y. Walley & Jessica L. Taylor


    Background: Police action can increase risky substance use patterns by people who use drugs (PWUD), but it is not known how increased police presence affects utilization of low-barrier substance use disorder bridge clinics. Increased police presence may increase or decrease treatment-seeking behavior. We examined the association between Operation Clean Sweep (OCS), a 2-week police action in Boston, MA, and visit volume in BMC’s low-barrier buprenorphine bridge clinic.

    Methods: In this retrospective cohort, we used segmented regression to investigate whether the increased police presence during OCS was associated with changes in bridge clinic visits. We used General Internal Medicine (GIM) clinic visit volume as a negative control. We examined visits during the 6 weeks prior, 2 weeks during, and 4 weeks after OCS (June 18-September 11, 2019).

    Results: Bridge clinic visits were 2.8 per provider session before, 2.0 during, and 3.0 after OCS. The mean number of GIM clinic visits per provider session before OCS was 7.0, 6.8 during, and 7.0 after OCS. In adjusted segmented regression models for bridge clinic visits per provider session, there was a nonsignificant level increase (0.643 P = 0.171) and significant decrease in slope (0.100, P = 0.045) during OCS. After OCS completed, there was a significant level increase (1.442, P = 0.003) and slope increase in visits per provider session (0.141, P = 0.007). There was no significant change in GIM clinic volume during the study period.

    Conclusions: The increased policing during OCS was associated with a significant decrease in bridge clinic visits. Following the completion of OCS, there was a significant increase in clinic visits, suggesting pent-up demand for medications for opioid use disorder, a life-saving treatment.

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

    Identifying Unique Barriers to Implementing Rural Emergency Department-Based Peer Services for Opioid Use Disorder Through Qualitative Comparison with Urban Sites

    Journal: Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 2022, doi: 10.1186/s13722-022-00324-3

    Authors: Dennis P. Watson, Monte D. Staton & Nicole Gastala


    Background: In an effort to address the current opioid epidemic, a number of hospitals across the United States have implemented emergency department-based interventions for engaging patients presenting with opioid use disorder. The current study seeks to address gaps in knowledge regarding implementation of a sub-type of such interventions, emergency department-based peer support services, in rural areas by comparing implementation of rural and urban programs that participated in Indiana’s Recovery Coach and Peer Support Initiative (RCPSI).

    Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of qualitative semi-structured implementation interviews collected as part of an evaluation of 10 programs (4 rural and 6 urban) participating in the RCPSI. We conducted interviews with representatives from each program at 3 time points over the course of the first year of implementation. Our deductive coding process was guided by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) and an external context taxonomy.

    Results: We identified key differences for rural programs corresponding to each of the 5 primary constructs in the coding scheme. (1) Intervention characteristics: rural sites questioned intervention fit with their context, required more adaptations, and encountered unexpected costs. (2) External context: rural sites were not appropriately staffed to meet patient needs, encountered logistical and legal barriers regarding patient privacy, and had limited patient transportation options. (3) Inner setting: rural sites lacked strong mechanisms for internal communication and difficulties integrating with pre-existing culture and climate. (4) Characteristics of individuals: some rural providers resisted working with peers due to pre-existing attitudes and beliefs. (5) Implementation process: rural sites spent more time identifying external partners and abandoned more components of their initial implementation plans.

    Conclusions: Findings demonstrate how rural programs faced greater challenges implementing emergency department-based peer services over time. These challenges required flexible adaptations to originally intended plans. Rural programs likely require flexibility to adapt interventions that were developed in urban settings to ensure success considering local contextual constraints that were identified by our analysis.

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

    Simulating the Experience of Searching for LGBTQ-Specific Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in the United States

    Journal: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 2022, doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2022.108828

    Authors: Margaret M. Paschen-Wolff, Rachel Velasquez, Nicole Aydinoglo & Aimee N. C. Campbell


    Introduction: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) populations experience opioid-related disparities compared to heterosexual and cisgender populations. LGBTQ-specific services are needed within opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment settings to minimize treatment barriers; research on the availability and accessibility of such services is limited. The purpose of the current study was to mimic the experience of an LGBTQ-identified individual searching for LGBTQ-specific OUD treatment services, using the SAMHSA National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Facilities – 2018 (Treatment Directory).

    Methods: We contacted treatment facilities listed in the Treatment Directory as providing both medications for OUD (MOUD) and “special programs/groups” for LGBTQ clients within states with the top 20 highest national opioid overdose rates. We used descriptive statistics to characterize the outcome of calls; and the overall number of facilities offering LGBTQ-specific services, MOUD, and both LGBTQ-specific services and MOUD in each state by 100,000 state population and in relation to opioid overdose mortality rates (programs-per-death rate).

    Results: Of the N = 570 treatment facilities contacted, n = 446 (78.25 %) were reached and answered our questions. Of n = 446 reached (all of which advertised both MOUD and LGBTQ-specific services), n = 366 (82.06 %) reported offering MOUD, n = 125 (28.03 %) reported offering special programs or groups for LGBTQ clients, and n = 107 (23.99 %) reported offering both MOUD and LGBTQ-specific services. Apart from Washington, DC, New Mexico, South Carolina, and West Virginia, which did not have any facilities that reported offering both MOUD and LGBTQ-specific services, Illinois had the lowest, and Michigan had the highest programs-per-death rate. Most of the northeastern states on our list (all but New Hampshire) clustered in the top two quarters of programs-per-death rates, while most of southeastern states (all but North Carolina) clustered in the bottom two quarters of programs-per-death rates.

    Conclusions: The lack of LGBTQ-specific OUD treatment services may lead to missed opportunities for supporting LGBTQ people most in need of treatment; such treatment is especially crucial to prevent overdose mortality and improve the health of LGBTQ populations across the United States, particularly in the southeast.

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


    August 2022