Research News Roundup: February 9, 2023

    Journal: JAMA Network Open, 2023, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.52689

    Authors: Holly Elser, Keith Humphreys, Mathew V. Kiang, Swapnil Mehta, Jong H. Yoon, William O. Faustman & Ellicott C. Matthay


    Importance: Psychosis is a hypothesized consequence of cannabis use. Legalization of cannabis could therefore be associated with an increase in rates of health care utilization for psychosis.

    Objective: To evaluate the association of state medical and recreational cannabis laws and commercialization with rates of psychosis-related health care utilization.

    Design, Setting, and Participants: Retrospective cohort design using state-level panel fixed effects to model within-state changes in monthly rates of psychosis-related health care claims as a function of state cannabis policy level, adjusting for time-varying state-level characteristics and state, year, and month fixed effects. Commercial and Medicare Advantage claims data for beneficiaries aged 16 years and older in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia, 2003 to 2017 were used. Data were analyzed from April 2021 to October 2022.

    Exposure: State cannabis legalization policies were measured for each state and month based on law type (medical or recreational) and degree of commercialization (presence or absence of retail outlets).

    Main Outcomes and Measures: Outcomes were rates of psychosis-related diagnoses and prescribed antipsychotics.

    Results: This study included 63 680 589 beneficiaries followed for 2 015 189 706 person-months. Women accounted for 51.8% of follow-up time with the majority of person-months recorded for those aged 65 years and older (77.3%) and among White beneficiaries (64.6%). Results from fully-adjusted models showed that, compared with no legalization policy, states with legalization policies experienced no statistically significant increase in rates of psychosis-related diagnoses (medical, no retail outlets: rate ratio [RR], 1.13; 95% CI, 0.97-1.36; medical, retail outlets: RR, 1.24; 95% CI, 0.96-1.61; recreational, no retail outlets: RR, 1.38; 95% CI, 0.93-2.04; recreational, retail outlets: RR, 1.39; 95% CI, 0.98-1.97) or prescribed antipsychotics (medical, no retail outlets RR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.88-1.13; medical, retail outlets: RR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.87-1.19; recreational, no retail outlets: RR, 1.13; 95% CI, 0.84-1.51; recreational, retail outlets: RR, 1.14; 95% CI, 0.89-1.45). In exploratory secondary analyses, rates of psychosis-related diagnoses increased significantly among men, people aged 55 to 64 years, and Asian beneficiaries in states with recreational policies compared with no policy.

    Conclusions and Relevance: In this retrospective cohort study of commercial and Medicare Advantage claims data, state medical and recreational cannabis policies were not associated with a statistically significant increase in rates of psychosis-related health outcomes. As states continue to introduce new cannabis policies, continued evaluation of psychosis as a potential consequence of state cannabis legalization may be informative.

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

    Strategies to Reduce Harm: An Expert Panel Discussion on the Fentanyl Crisis

    Journal: The Permanente Journal, 2023, doi: 10.7812/TPP/22.176

    Authors: Sarah J. Leitz, Sarah M. Bagley, Amy Jo Cook, Christopher Jones, David Lawrence & Pam Pearce


    According to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during the 12-month period ending in July 2022, an estimated 107,5001 lives were lost to a drug overdose. More than 81,000 of the overdose deaths involved opioids. These numbers represent people who were mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, classmates, teammates, and best friends. The effects of these losses have cascaded through all aspects of our communities and across generations. To highlight the crisis and provide understanding and strategies to prevent the further loss of life, a panel of experts with a wide range of knowledge and experience, from patient advocacy and prevention to front-line work to federal policy, from across the United States, discuss in this article the nationwide fentanyl crisis.

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

    Negative Urgency, PTSD Symptoms, and Alcohol Risk in College Students

    Journal: Addictive Behaviors Reports, 2023, doi: 10.1016/j.abrep.2023.100480

    Authors: Hagar Hallihan, Hanaan Bing-Canar, Katherine Paltell & Erin C. Berenz


    Theoretical models of trauma and alcohol use suggest that trauma-exposed individuals with higher levels of PTSD symptoms are at increased risk of problematic and coping-oriented alcohol use to alleviate unwanted internal states. The goal of the current study was to evaluate whether these associations are enhanced among young adults who report engaging in impulsive behavior in the context of negative affect (i.e., high negative urgency). It was hypothesized that (a) higher negative urgency would be associated with problematic alcohol use; and that (b) negative urgency would moderate the association between PTSD symptoms and problematic alcohol use.

    Methods: This study used a cross-sectional, secondary data analysis design run on 213 participants: college students, ages 18-25, who endorsed both having an interpersonal traumatic event and current weekly alcohol use. Participants completed a series of assessments and self-report questionnaires.

    Results: Results of hierarchical linear regression models indicated that greater negative urgency was significantly associated with greater negative alcohol-related consequences and greater coping motives for alcohol, but not past 30-day binge frequency or past 30-day alcohol quantity. Negative urgency did not moderate associations between PTSD symptoms and alcohol outcomes.

    Conclusions: PTSD symptoms and negative urgency are uniquely associated with indices of alcohol risk in college students with a history of trauma exposure. However, individuals high in negative urgency are not necessarily consuming more alcohol, nor does negative urgency increase the association between PTSD symptoms and drinking outcomes in this population.

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

    Genetic Influences on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

    Journal: Genes, 2023, doi: 10.3390/genes14010195

    Authors: Danielle Sambo & David Goldman


    Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) encompasses the range of deleterious outcomes of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) in the affected offspring, including developmental delay, intellectual disability, attention deficits, and conduct disorders. Several factors contribute to the risk for and severity of FASD, including the timing, dose, and duration of PAE and maternal factors such as age and nutrition. Although poorly understood, genetic factors also contribute to the expression of FASD, with studies in both humans and animal models revealing genetic influences on susceptibility. In this article, we review the literature related to the genetics of FASD in humans, including twin studies, candidate gene studies in different populations, and genetic testing identifying copy number variants. Overall, these studies suggest different genetic factors, both in the mother and in the offspring, influence the phenotypic outcomes of PAE. While further work is needed, understanding how genetic factors influence FASD will provide insight into the mechanisms contributing to alcohol teratogenicity and FASD risk and ultimately may lead to means for early detection and intervention.

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

    Identifying Desired Features That Would Be Acceptable and Helpful in a Wrist-Worn Biosensor-Based Alcohol Intervention: Interview Study among Adults Who Drink Heavily

    Journal: Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2023, doi: 10.2196/38713

    Authors: Veronica L. Richards, Saahas Rajendran, Robert L. Cook, Robert F. Leeman, Yan Wang, Cindy Prins & Christa Cook


    Background: Alcohol misuse is highly prevalent in the United States and results in a huge financial and public health burden. Current alcohol reduction treatments are underused, and there is a critical need for innovation in the field. Transdermal alcohol biosensors measure alcohol use passively and continuously and may be helpful tools in alcohol interventions. To date, however, alcohol biosensors have not been widely used to directly intervene on alcohol use. There is a new wrist-worn biosensor that could be used to help people reduce their drinking, although it is unclear how best to incorporate such a device into an alcohol intervention.

    Objective: We aimed to identify desired features that would be acceptable and helpful in a wrist-worn biosensor-based alcohol intervention for adults who drink heavily.

    Methods: Participants were recruited through an alcohol contingency management study, a contact registry, and participant referral. To qualify, participants had to be aged at least 40 years, report drinking at least twice per week, and indicate interest in reducing their drinking. We conducted a semistructured interview with each participant via Zoom (Zoom Video Communications, Inc). The interview guide addressed general thoughts on the wrist-worn biosensor, how participants thought a wrist-worn biosensor could be used to help people quit or reduce drinking, types of information that participants would want to receive from the biosensor, how they would want to receive this information, and how they thought this information could be used to change their behavior. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analysis.

    Results: The sample comprised 20 adults (mean age 55.1, SD 6.1 years; 11/20, 55%, women; and 17/20, 85%, Black). Of the 20 participants, 9 (45%) had previous experience with the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor continuous alcohol monitoring ankle biosensor from participating in an alcohol contingency management study. The desirable features could be grouped into 5 main themes: features that would influence willingness to use the biosensor (it should look attractive and be both comfortable to wear and accessible), personalized messaging (personalized biosensor-based prompts and feedback could be helpful), preference for time wearing the biosensor (for some, just wearing the biosensor could have an intervention effect), sharing data with others (this was appealing to many but not to all), and mental health support (many felt that mental health support could be incorporated into the biosensor).

    Conclusions: Five main themes that would maximize interest in using a wrist-worn biosensor for alcohol intervention were identified. Taken together, the identified themes could inform the development of a just-in-time adaptive intervention that uses a wrist-worn biosensor to help adults who drink heavily reduce their alcohol use.

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


    February 2023