Administrative Core: William C. Kerr, Director
The Administrative Core is responsible for the overall management and coordination of the National Alcohol Research Center as a whole. In addition to Director William C. Kerr, the Center’s senior leaders include Associate Director Sarah E. Zemore. Dr. Zemore serves as the Center’s Director of Training and is PI of the T32 Training grant. Dr. Zemore also leads the enrichment speakers’ program. This program brings nationally and internationally renowned scientists to present their new research and to meet with staff and fellows on common interests. She also assists Dr. Kerr in Center administrative duties.
Statistical and Data Services (SDS) Core
The Center’s determination to adopt the most effective cutting-edge techniques led to the development of this Core supported in the current grant. This core project plays a crucial role in the Center by intensifying, coordinating and focusing statistical and analytic functions, needed by all components, and by developing new statistical techniques needed for our analyses. The Core is aided by experienced biostatisticians Libo Li, PhD, Yu Ye, MA, and by Meenakshi Sabina Subbaraman, PhD. The SDS Core provides biostatistical consulting, analysis, and data management support for the Center’s other core and research components and participates actively in Pilot Projects. The SDS Core also involves training activities to enhance statistical capacities of scientific staff at all levels. The Core undertakes data archiving and documentation of measures, to increase data value and access, as well as helping assure that appropriate analysis, database storage, and integrity procedures are followed. A series of statistical methodology seminars for staff will increase sophistication in using newer techniques. Experience with cutting-edge statistical methodologies benefits all Center components and simultaneously helps train the next generation of alcohol researchers, improving their effectiveness.
National Alcohol Survey (NAS) Resources: Co-directors Katherine Karriker-Jaffe and Thomas K. Greenfield
The Core Component forms a backbone core activity that generates, manages and provides needed NAS datasets to three Center research components and to other independent investigators. The Center has conducted NAS surveys of the adult US population at about 5-year intervals since the 1960s, with standard measures and methods since 1979’s N6.
This scientific core proposes to conduct an addition to the NAS series, a 2019/20 National Alcohol Survey (N14), with design refinements including dual-frame cell phone and landline sampling plus large African American and Hispanic oversamples—a key feature of these surveys for the Center’s health disparities theme. Additional lower cost data acquisition approaches such as web-panels will be considered to augment the data collection plan for the N14 survey. For the new population survey, instrument development and piloting will begin in 2018, fielding in 2019, with completion by early 2020.
Throughout the proposed period, beginning in year 1, we will prepare for investigators analytic NAS datasets for use in the Center’s research components, affiliated independent grants, and by other researchers. As we have done previously, we will add geo-referenced contextual data elements drawn from Census and other archival sources.
Pilot Studies: Sarah E. Zemore, Component Director
The pilot studies program is designed to advance the Center’s research agenda and to generate independent grant applications, relevant to the Center’s focus on epidemiology of alcohol problems and services that respond to them and to national priorities for alcohol research. The component is designed to provide the Center with a flexible means to develop and explore new research activities or directions and to provide unique scientific opportunities for research ideas with the potential to evolve into independently-funded research projects. Preference has been and will be given to early-stage investigators and to projects that emerge from specific questions raised by Center or affiliated research. Pilots proposed are a mix of epidemiologic and health services studies. Management of the pilot component will be supported by this Core’s Management Group, in a role parallel to that of the faculty on the T32 Training Grants. We have learned that close supervision and attention to early challenges is crucial. As with previous pilot projects in earlier Center cycles, we anticipate that results from these pilots will help earl-stage careers, open up innovative lines of research and yield key preliminary results.
A growing body of research has found that lesbian and bisexual (sexual minority) women may be at heightened risk for hazardous drinking and alcohol-related problems. Few individuals who need substance use treatment receive it, and sexual minorities must contend with a host of additional personal, interpersonal, organizational, and societal barriers that may limit access to and affect the quality of needed services. Large-scale, epidemiologic studies examining substance use treatment among sexual minorities are few, and existing studies largely have been limited to assessing whether services were received, neglecting to gather important information on barriers to treatment and treatment experiences in this population. To begin to address this gap in the literature, the aims of this pilot study are twofold:
AIM 1: To identify reasons why sexual minorities with putative need for substance use treatment (i.e., those who meet criteria for lifetime alcohol dependence) may not access it;
AIM 2: To describe how sexual minorities who meet criteria for lifetime alcohol dependence access substance abuse treatment and the nature of their experiences in it.
Drawing a sample from the ongoing study Sexual Orientation Differences: Prevalence & Correlates of Substance Use & Abuse (R01DA036606; PI, Trocki), this study will involve consecutively recruiting and conducting additional qualitative interviews over the phone with 32 women who meet criteria for lifetime alcohol dependence. Findings from this study will be used to develop and investigate the feasibility of interventions to reduce barriers to substance use treatment and better tailor substance abuse treatment services to meet the needs of sexual minority clients in subsequent studies.
Pilot Study 2: Assessing the Acceptability and Feasibility of Mail-in, Self-Administered Dried Blood Spot Sampling in the National Alcohol Survey, Priscilla Martinez, Pilot Director
This study will evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of using mail-in, self-administered Dried Blood Spot (saDBS) technology as a way of collecting blood samples from people who have participated in a national, telephone-based alcohol research survey. We propose to re-contact respondents of the 2015 NAS (NAS 13) who reported alcohol use above adult drinking guidelines put forth by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
We will determine the proportion of people willing to participate in a study involving saDBS among those contacted and eligible, and observe the proportion who complete and return viable saDBS kits. We will stratify by race and gender to examine participation and completion rates by these demographics. In order to determine the viability of the blood samples provided by the completed saDBS kits, we will test the received blood samples for immune proteins called cytokines that are associated with alcohol use and other mental health measures, including symptoms of depression and anxiety. An exploratory aim of this study is to determine associations between levels of cytokines in the blood, alcohol use, and mental health measures.