The ability to produce knowledge in research communities depends largely on the creation of a support network, and linking related research that strengthen the work being done. DIDARP not only responsible for his two main projects, but also directs and collaborates with additional projects included in the spectrum of research on substance abuse and criminal justice. Among these projects include the following:
Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap
This is an externally funded project in which Dr. Albizu and other researchers from the GSPH participate that has facilitated a strong collaboration between policy makers, state and municipal government, non-government services organizations, and academia in the implementation of strategies to (a) improve community endorsement of evidence based drug treatment, (2) develop demonstrative projects for the provision of medication assisted treatment (MAT) integrated in primary care, (3) strengthen the transference of scientific knowledge gained by our research group to policy and clinical practice. We have collaborated with the treatment sector in the preparation of grant applications for MAT services and have built an infrastructure of services providers with whom we can develop in the near future models of participatory research.
Through this initiative we carried out a small exploratory research project to assess attitudes towards and experiences with dispensing of Buprenorphine in chain, community, and hospital pharmacies in Puerto Rico. This study bridges the SPH and the School of Pharmacy at the faculty and student level. We are now in the phase of manuscripts preparation. The results will assure that needs of all key players required for a system of care using MAT in PR are considered as treatment expansion initiatives are designed.
This initiative also produced a manuscript titled “Medical costs of persons with drug use disorders among Medicaid managed care beneficiaries in Puerto Rico” (Dr. Albizu-García is a co-author) that is under final revision for The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research (JBHS&R) . This activity has facilitated the collaboration with two health economists with which we hope to collaborate in future studies.
School of Medicine Hispanic Center of Excellence (HCOE)
This is a program funded by HRSA-DHHS whose aim is to increase the University of Puerto Rico-School of Medicine’s (SOM) capability and resources to better prepare medical students and faculty in the domains of Hispanic health issues and health services disparities. Through collaboration between HCOE and our program, we are training two junior faculty members from the SOM in drug abuse research by integrating them to the two ongoing projects. In addition, HCOE is providing resources, along with the SOM’s Endowed Health Services Research Center, to help us develop a training program in secondary analysis of large national data sets with a focus on health disparities research.
Open doors and support to graduate students from School of Public Health
DIDARP encourage the involvement of graduate students at the SPH and residents from the School of Medicine in drug abuse research. This is building up by inviting them to use our extant data for secondary analysis to sustain their dissertations for their master’s degree or their required residency research project. One master level student and one resident in Psychiatry are analyzing the data set and focusing on questions related to ADHS and SUD. The resident work is titled: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptomatology in the Puerto Rican inmate population and its association with criminal behavior and recidivism.
Transition Clinics Network (TCN)
Our group is one site for the CMS funded Transition Clinic Networks (PI Sira Shavit at UCSF) a three year initiative funded in July, 2012, that explores if the use of a community case worker and a prison based release planner improve use of a transition clinic for inmates with chronic health conditions (including SUD, Mental health) thereby reducing overutilization of emergency room and hospitalizations.
Seek, Test, and Treat (NIDA)
We are one of the sites of the project awarded to Dr. Josiah D. Rich and Dr. Liza Solomon to test a uniform code with which to track reentering inmate’s access and utilization of HIV services in the community.