A research project co-led by Emory University Rollins School of Public Health has received $1.16 million in funding over the next two years through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to pursue research on the opioid epidemic.
Dr. Hannah Cooper, associate professor in behavioral sciences and health, leads the project, titled “Kentucky Communities and Researchers Engaging to Halt the Opioid Epidemic” (Care2Hope) with Dr. April Young. Care2Hope is a collaboration between Rollins and the University of Kentucky that will take place in 12 rural counties in eastern Kentucky that have been hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic. The goal of the project is to develop comprehensive approaches to prevent and treat the consequences of opioid injection—including overdoses, hepatitis C and HIV.
During the first two years of the project, Cooper, Young, and their team will build academic-community partnerships and conduct local needs assessments. In years three through five — funding is contingent upon meeting specific goals in the first two years — the researchers will focus on implementing interventions tailored to each county’s individual needs and conducting community trials.
Dr. Young, a researcher with the University of Kentucky and a Rollins alumna, is co-principal investigator of the project. “The Emory collaborators will bring a fresh perspective on tackling the opioid epidemic in rural areas and will contribute expertise on community trials, community-based participatory action research and risk environment assessment,” she says. “I am looking forward to co-leading this effort with Hannah, as she brings expertise in so many areas, including HIV, harm reduction, social determinants of health and addiction. Together, I think this collaboration is going to be very strong.”
Drs. Cooper and Young worked together on a previous study on opioid abuse in rural Kentucky in five of the 12 counties included in this project. Prior to that collaboration, Cooper served on Young’s dissertation committee when she was a doctoral candidate in the department of behavioral sciences and health education at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. Additional Rollins team members include Michelle Kegler, Kelli Komro, Alex Wagenaar, Regine Haardöerfer,
Care2Hope is one of nine projects to receive funding from NIDA, ARC, CDC, and SAMHSA in their efforts to help communities prevent and treat the consequences of opioid injection across the nation’s rural areas.
“This is the first study I am aware of where there has been a concerted effort to build a university-community partnership around substance abuse in this part of Kentucky,” says Dr. Cooper.