Research News Roundup: October 13, 2022

    Association of Attending a High-Performing High School with Substance Use Disorder Rate and Health Outcomes in Young Adults

    Journal: JAMA Network Open, 2022, doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.35083

    Authors: Mitchell D. Wong, Benjamin P. L. Meza, Kulwant K. Dosanjh, Nicholas J. Jackson, Teresa E. Seeman, Natalia Orendain & Rebecca N. Dudovitz


    Importance: Interventions directly targeting social factors, such as education, may have the potential to greatly improve health.

    Objective: To examine the association of attending a high-performing public charter high school with rates of substance use disorder and physical and mental health.

    Design, setting, and participants: This cohort study used the random school admissions lottery system of high-performing public charter high schools in low-income neighborhoods of Los Angeles, California, to examine the health outcomes of students who applied to at least 1 of 5 of these high schools. Participants attended 147 different high schools and were randomly selected from those who won the admissions lottery (intervention group) and those who were placed on a waiting list (control group). Participants were surveyed at the end of grade 8 through transition into grade 9 and then from grade 10 through 3 years after high school completion (at age 21 years). Surveys were conducted from March 2013 through November 2021.

    Intervention: Attendance at a high-performing public charter high school.

    Main outcomes and measures: Self-reported alcohol use disorder and cannabis misuse, delinquent behaviors, physical and mental health, and body mass index.

    Results: Of the 1270 participants at baseline (mean [SD] age, 14.2 [0.47] years; 668 female individuals [52.6%]). The control group included 576 individuals (45.4%), and 694 individuals (54.6%) were in the intervention group. Both groups were similar in almost all characteristics at baseline, and the median (IQR) follow-up was 6.4 (6.0-6.7) years. Participants attending a high-performing public charter high school had a 53.33% lower rate of hazardous or dependent alcohol use disorder compared with those in the control group (5.43% vs 11.64%; difference, -6.21% [95% CI, -11.87% to -0.55%]; P = .03). Among male participants, the intervention group had a 42.05% lower rate of self-reported fair or poor physical health (13.33% vs 23.01%; difference, -9.67% [95% CI, -18.30% to -1.05%]; P = .03) and a 32.94% lower rate of obesity or overweight (29.28% vs 43.67%; difference, -14.38% [95% CI, -25.74% to -3.02%]; P = .02) compared with the control group. Among female participants, attending a high-performing public charter high school was associated with worse physical health outcomes (30.29% vs 13.47% reporting fair or poor health; difference, 16.82% [95% CI, 0.36% to 33.28%]; P = .045) and higher rates of overweight or obesity (52.20% vs 32.91%; difference, 19.30% [95% CI, 3.37% to 35.22%]; P = .02) at age 21 years. Few differences in mental health outcomes were observed. Adjusting for educational outcomes did not significantly change these findings.

    Conclusions and relevance: Results of this study suggest that attending a high-performing public charter high school was associated with lower rates of substance use disorder independent of academic achievement. Physical health and obesity outcomes were also better but only for young men; the intervention group had worse physical health outcomes among young women for unclear reasons. Schools are a potent social determinant of health and an important target for future health interventions.

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

    Economic Loss Attributable to Cigarette Smoking in the USA: An Economic Modelling Study

    Journal: Lancet Public Health, 2022, doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(22)00202-X

    Authors: Nigar Nargis, A. K. M. Ghulam Hussain, Samuel Asare, Zheng Xue, Anuja Majmundar, Priti Bandi, … Ahmedin Jemal


    Background: Despite large geographical disparities in the prevalence of cigarette smoking across the USA, there is a paucity of state-level estimates of economic loss attributable to smoking to inform tobacco control policies at the national and state levels. We aimed to estimate the state-level economic loss attributable to cigarette smoking in the USA.

    Methods: In this economic modelling study, we used a dynamic macroeconomic model of personal income per capita at the state level. Based on publicly available data on state-level income, its determinants, and smoking status for 2011-20, we first estimated the elasticity of personal income per capita with respect to the prevalence of non-smoking adults (aged ≥18 years) in the USA using a mixed-effects, generalised linear, dynamic panel data model. We used the estimated elasticity to measure the state-specific, annual, avoidable economic loss attributable to cigarette smoking in 2020 under the counterfactual 5% prevalence of cigarette smoking. We then estimated the state-specific cumulative economic loss attributable to cigarette smoking in 2020 using the coefficient of lagged income in the dynamic model. National estimates on economic loss attributable to cigarette smoking were obtained by summing state-specific estimates.

    Findings: In the mixed-effects model, the elasticity of personal income per capita with respect to the prevalence of non-smoking adults was 0·143 (p=0·063). The estimated annual income loss per capita in 2020 ranged from US$331 in Utah to $1674 in Kentucky. The state mean population-weighted loss per capita was $1100. The annual combined loss of income and unpaid household production at the national level was $436·7 billion (equivalent to 2·1% of US gross domestic product [GDP] in 2020). The cumulative loss of income and unpaid household production was $864·5 billion (equivalent to 4·3% of US GDP in 2020).

    Interpretation: Smoking causes substantial economic loss in the USA. Tobacco control efforts that lower the prevalence of smoking equitably can contribute considerably to improved macroeconomic performance in the short and long term by reducing health expenditures and avoiding productivity losses.

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

    Comparison of State-Level Regulations for Cannabis Contaminants and Implications for Public Health

    Journal: Environmental Health Perspectives, 2022, doi: 10.1289/EHP11206

    Authors: Laura E. Jameson, Kendra D. Conrow, Dorina V. Pinkhasova, Haleigh L. Boulanger, Hyunji Ha, Negar Jourabchian, … Maxwell C. K. Leung


    Background: The presence of contaminants in cannabis presents a potential health hazard to recreational users and susceptible patients with medical conditions. Because of the federally illegal status of cannabis, there are no unified regulatory guidelines mitigating the public health risk of cannabis contaminants.

    Objective: To inform further research and provide solutions to the public health risk of cannabis contaminants at a national level, we examined the current landscape of state-level contaminant regulations, and cannabis contaminants of concern, as well as patient populations susceptible to contaminants.

    Methods: We examined the regulatory documents for medical and recreational cannabis in all legalized U.S. jurisdictions and compiled a complete list of regulated contaminants, namely, pesticides, inorganics, solvents, microbes, and mycotoxins. We data mined the compliance testing records of 5,654 cured flower and 3,760 extract samples that accounted for ∼6% of California’s legal cannabis production in 2020-2021. We also reviewed the publicly available medical cannabis use reports to tabulate the susceptible patient populations.

    Results: As of 18 May 2022, 36 states and the District of Columbia listed a total of 679 cannabis contaminants as regulated in medical or recreational cannabis, including 551 pesticides, 74 solvents, 12 inorganics, 21 microbes, 5 mycotoxins, and 16 other contaminants. Different jurisdictions showed significant variations in regulated contaminants and action levels ranging up to four orders of magnitude. A failure rate of 2.3% was identified for flowers and 9.2% for extracts in the California samples. Insecticides and fungicides were the most prevalent categories of detected contaminants, with boscalid and chlorpyrifos being the most common. The contaminant concentrations fell below the regulatory action levels in many legalized jurisdictions, indicating a higher risk of contaminant exposure. Cannabis use reports indicated usage in several patient populations susceptible to contamination toxicity, including cancer (44,318) and seizure (21,195) patients.

    Discussion: Although individual jurisdictions can implement their policies and regulations for legalized cannabis, this study demonstrates the urgent need to mitigate the public health risk of cannabis contamination by introducing national-level guidelines based on conventional risk assessment methodologies and knowledge of patients’ susceptibility in medical use.

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

    Journal: Harm Reduction Journal, 2022, doi: 10.1186/s12954-022-00693-7

    Authors: Allison V. Schlosser & Lee D. Hoffer


    Background: Opioid-related overdose death is a public health epidemic in much of the USA, yet little is known about how people who use opioids (PWUO) experience overdose deaths in their social networks. We explore these experiences through a qualitative study of opioid-related overdose death bereavement among PWUO.

    Methods: We recruited 30 adults who inject opioids from a syringe service program in the Midwestern USA and interviewed them using a semi-structured guide that addressed experiences of opioid use, opioid-related overdose, and overdose reversal via the medication naloxone. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically.

    Findings: Participants described overdose death as ever-present in their social worlds. Most (approximately 75%) reported at least one overdose death in their social network, and many came to consider death an inevitable end of opioid use. Participants described grief shaped by complex social relations and mourning that was interrupted due to involvement with social services and criminal legal systems. They also reported several ways that overdose deaths influenced their drug use, with some increasing their use and others adopting safer drug use practices. Despite the high prevalence of overdose deaths in their social networks, only one participant reported receiving grief support services.

    Discussion: Findings underscore the need for interventions that not only maintain life, such as naloxone distribution, but also improve quality of life by attending to grief related to overdose death bereavement. We discuss policies and practices with the potential to address the unique psychological, social, and structural challenges of grief for this population.

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

    Promoting Community Stakeholder Engagement in Research on Treatment for Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorder

    Journal: Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research, 2022, doi: 10.2217/cer-2022-0090

    Authors: Deborah J. Johnson, Mary F. Brunette, Daisy J. Goodman, Meagan Adams, Cheri Bryer, Julie R. Doherty … Sarah Lord


    Aim: Community stakeholder engagement in research (CSER) can improve research relevance and efficiency as well as prevent harmful practices, particularly for vulnerable populations. Despite potential benefits, researchers lack familiarity with CSER methods.

    Methods: We describe CSER strategies used across the research continuum, including proposal development, study planning and the first years of a comparative effectiveness study of care for pregnant women with opioid use disorder.

    Results: We highlight successful strategies, grounded in principles of engagement, to establish and maintain stakeholder relationships, foster bidirectional communication and trust and support active participation of women with opioid use disorder in the research process. Conclusion: CSER methods support research with a disenfranchised population. Future work will evaluate the impact of CSER strategies on study outcomes and dissemination.

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