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    Research News Roundup: July 27, 2023

    Use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems or Cigarette Smoking after US Food and Drug Administration–Prioritized Enforcement Against Fruit-Flavored Cartridges

    Journal: JAMA Network Open, 2023, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.21109

    Authors: Karin A. Kasza, Cheryl Rivard, Young Sik Seo, Jessica L. Reid, Shannon Gravely, Geoffrey T. Fong, David Hammond, & Andrew Hyland


    Importance: The Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) of the US Food and Drug Administration prioritized its enforcement efforts against non–tobacco-, non–menthol- (fruit-) flavored cartridge electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in February 2020.

    Objective: To evaluate adults’ use of ENDS and cigarette smoking following the CTP’s prioritized enforcement efforts against fruit-flavored cartridge ENDS.

    Design, Setting, and Participants: In this population-based, nationally representative US cohort study, data were collected from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study from December 2018 to November 2019 (hereafter referred to as 2019) and/or from September 2020 to December 2020 (Adult Telephone Survey, hereafter referred to as 2020). Adults (aged ≥21 years) who used ENDS in the past 30 days and smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days or quit smoking cigarettes in the past year (n = 3173) were evaluated. Data were analyzed from January 1, 2022, to May 2, 2023.

    Exposure: ENDS flavor-device combinations used.

    Main Outcomes and Measures: Outcome measures were cross-sectional prevalence of ENDS flavor-device combinations used in 2019 (n = 2654) and 2020 (n = 519) and longitudinal transitions in cigarette smoking (cessation [no smoking in the past 30 days in 2020 among those who smoked in 2019; n = 876] and relapse [smoking in the past 30 days in 2020 among those who recently quit in 2019; n = 137]) as a function of ENDS flavor-device combination used in 2019.

    Results: The sample in 2019 included 2654 individuals (55% male [95% CI, 53%-58%]). Among those who used ENDS and smoked cigarettes, fruit-flavored cartridge ENDS use decreased from 13.9% (95% CI, 12.1%-15.9%) in 2019 to 7.9% (95% CI, 5.1%-12.1%) in 2020 (P = .01), whereas fruit-flavored disposable ENDS use increased from 4.0% (95% CI, 3.1%-5.1%) in 2019 to 14.5% (95% CI, 11.6%-18.0%) in 2020 (P < .001). Patterns were similar among those who recently quit smoking. Neither cigarette cessation nor relapse rates differed between those who used ENDS that were vs were not prioritized for enforcement efforts (cessation: 23.4% [95% CI, 18.1%-29.7%] vs 26.4% [95% CI, 22.4%-30.8%]; adjusted odds ratio, 1.12; 95% CI, 0.57-2.21; relapse: 32.7% [95% CI, 17.1%-53.4%] vs 29.8% [95% CI, 20.3%-41.3%]; adjusted odds ratio, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.24-3.84).

    Conclusions and Relevance: In this nationally representative US cohort study of adults who smoked cigarettes and used ENDS, fruit-flavored cartridge ENDS use was nearly halved between 2019 and 2020. Cigarette cessation and relapse rates did not differ between those who used ENDS targeted by CTP and those who used other ENDS.

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

    Interventions to Support Engagement in Addiction Care Postpartum: Principles and Pitfalls

    Journal: Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 2023,

    Authors: Shayna Mazel, Karen Alexander, & Mishka Terplan

    Abstract: There is a fundamental disconnect between the optimal management of addiction in general and care delivery in pregnancy and postpartum. Addiction is a chronic condition requiring some degree of management across the life course. Yet, in the US, reproductive care is episodic and centers more on pregnancy than at other stages of the reproductive life course. Pregnancy is prioritized in access to insurance as almost all pregnant people are Medicaid eligible but access ends at varying points postpartum. This results in a structural mismatch: the episodic management of the chronic condition of addiction only within gestational periods. Though people with substance use disorder (SUD) may access care in pregnancy, treatment attrition is common postpartum. Postpartum is a time of increased vulnerabilities where insurance churn and newborn caretaking responsibilities collide in a context of care withdrawal from the health system and health providers. In part in consequence, return to use, SUD recurrence, overdose, and overdose death are more common postpartum than in pregnancy, and drug deaths have become a leading cause of maternal deaths in the US. This review addresses interventions to support engagement in addiction care postpartum. We begin with a scoping review of model programs and evidence-informed interventions that have been shown to increase continuation of care postpartum. We then explore the realities of contemporary care through a review of clinical and ethical principles, with particular attention to harm reduction. We conclude with suggestions of strategies (clinical, research, and policy) to improve care postpartum and highlight potential pitfalls in the uptake of evidence-based and person-centered services.

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

    Stigmatizing Imagery for Substance Use Disorders: A Qualitative Exploration

    Journal: Health & Justice, 2023, doi: 10.1186/s40352-023-00229-6

    Authors: Jessica Hulsey, Kayla Zawislak, Ginnie Sawyer-Morris, & Valerie Earnshaw


    Background: Stigma is a significant barrier to the treatment of individuals with substance use disorders. While prior efforts have been made to change stigmatizing language to refer to individuals with substance use disorders (SUD), little is known about the effects of stigmatizing imagery. There is a need for complementary qualitative research to identify both stigmatizing and non-stigmatizing imagery in the field of SUD.

    Methods: This study used qualitative methods to identify stigmatizing and non-stigmatizing imagery for SUD and explore the reactions of people with lived experience with SUD to SUD-related imagery. We conducted focus groups and brief semi-structured qualitative interviews with 14 individuals in recovery from a range of SUD.

    Results: Participants identified images of substance use and criminal justice contact that are negative or stigmatizing, along with alternative images that were endorsed for use. The unanticipated concept of imagery-induced triggering and cue reactivity emerged in the interviews, along with an emphasis on diversity in race/ethnicity, gender, and age for representations of both patients and clinicians in all imagery.

    Conclusions: The findings can be helpful in informing imagery that can depict addiction, individuals with SUD, and individuals involved in the justice system for various fields from research to media, public health, and community-based programming. Based on qualitative feedback from patients on triggering effects and reactivity to visual cues, it is never appropriate to use drug use and drug paraphernalia imagery to depict substance use or misuse or pictures of people in cages.

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

    Journal: Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2023, doi: 10.2196/44165

    Authors: John D. Piette, Laura Thomas, Sean Newman, Nicolle Marinec, Joel Krauss, Jenny Chen, Zhenke Wu, & Amy S. B. Bohnert


    Background: Some patients prescribed opioid analgesic (OA) medications for pain experience serious side effects, including dependence, sedation, and overdose. As most patients are at low risk for OA-related harms, risk reduction interventions requiring multiple counseling sessions are impractical on a large scale.

    Objective: This study evaluates whether an intervention based on reinforcement learning (RL), a field of artificial intelligence, learned through experience to personalize interactions with patients with pain discharged from the emergency department (ED) and decreased self-reported OA misuse behaviors while conserving counselors’ time.

    Methods: We used data representing 2439 weekly interactions between a digital health intervention (“Prescription Opioid Wellness and Engagement Research in the ED” [PowerED]) and 228 patients with pain discharged from 2 EDs who reported recent opioid misuse. During each patient’s 12 weeks of intervention, PowerED used RL to select from 3 treatment options: a brief motivational message delivered via an interactive voice response (IVR) call, a longer motivational IVR call, or a live call from a counselor. The algorithm selected session types for each patient each week, with the goal of minimizing OA risk, defined in terms of a dynamic score reflecting patient reports during IVR monitoring calls. When a live counseling call was predicted to have a similar impact on future risk as an IVR message, the algorithm favored IVR to conserve counselor time. We used logit models to estimate changes in the relative frequency of each session type as PowerED gained experience. Poisson regression was used to examine the changes in self-reported OA risk scores over calendar time, controlling for the ordinal session number (1st to 12th).

    Results: Participants on average were 40 (SD 12.7) years of age; 66.7% (152/228) were women and 51.3% (117/228) were unemployed. Most participants (175/228, 76.8%) reported chronic pain, and 46.2% (104/225) had moderate to severe depressive symptoms. As PowerED gained experience through interactions over a period of 142 weeks, it delivered fewer live counseling sessions than brief IVR sessions (P=.006) and extended IVR sessions (P<.001). Live counseling sessions were selected 33.5% of the time in the first 5 weeks of interactions (95% CI 27.4%-39.7%) but only for 16.4% of sessions (95% CI 12.7%-20%) after 125 weeks. Controlling for each patient’s changes during the course of treatment, this adaptation of treatment-type allocation led to progressively greater improvements in self-reported OA risk scores (P<.001) over calendar time, as measured by the number of weeks since enrollment began. Improvement in risk behaviors over time was especially pronounced among patients with the highest risk at baseline (P=.02).

    Conclusions: The RL-supported program learned which treatment modalities worked best to improve self-reported OA risk behaviors while conserving counselors’ time. RL-supported interventions represent a scalable solution for patients with pain receiving OA prescriptions.

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

    The Association Between Callous-Unemotional Traits and Substance Use in Childhood and Adolescence: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

    Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders, 2023, doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2023.06.051
    Authors: Hanna Sakki, Michelle St Clair, Suhlim Hwang, & Jennifer L. Allen
    Callous-unemotional (CU) traits are characterized by a lack of guilt and empathy, restricted affect, and low concern about performance, and are increasingly recognized as co-occurring with substance use in youth. However, there is mixed evidence concerning whether they make a unique contribution to substance use. This systematic review and meta-analysis sought to quantify the association between CU traits and substance use in childhood, accounting for potential moderators including sample characteristics (age, gender, community versus clinical/forensic samples), CU traits measure and informant, and study design (cross-sectional or longitudinal). Separate meta-analyses were conducted for alcohol, cannabis, and a substance use composite. Small, significant associations were found between CU traits and alcohol (θ = 0.17), cannabis (θ = 0.17) and the substance use composite (θ = 0.15), which were present in both community and clinical/forensic samples. Findings suggest that CU traits co-occur with a range of substance use problems, and that CU traits should be considered in assessments of youth presenting with substance use problems regardless of the nature of the setting.
    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.