Special Populations and Topics Projects


Enhancing Follow-Up Rates Through a
Rechargeable Incentive Card (RIC) System
David Farabee, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (dfarabee@ucla.edu)
Stacy Calhoun, M.A., Project Director

The purpose of this Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) proposal was to develop a national network that supports a rechargeable incentive card (RIC) system designed to enhance follow-up rates. Specifically, the RIC System involves a debit card linked to an account in which researchers can immediately transfer funds following a follow-up contact (whether this involves telephone or in-person interviews, mail-in surveys, or provision of biological samples). The card also contains a toll-free number that subjects can use to call (as often as once a month) to notify the researchers of changes in their locator/contact information. This, too, can result in an automatic transfer of funds to the subjects' RIC System account. Developing this technology will require collaboration between the Calance Corporation and the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP).

Enhancing Follow-Up Rates Through a Rechargeable Incentive Card (RIC) System was funded by the Calance Corporation (NIDA grant 1R41DA025387),from December 2008 to March 2010.


Modeling Risk and Protective Factors for Well-being of Maltreated Youth
Elizabeth Hall, Ph.D., Principal Investigator (ehall@ucla.edu)
Christine Grella, Ph.D., Co-Investigator (Grella@ucla.edu)
Libo Li, Ph.D., Co-Investigator (lilibo@ucla.edu)

We are conducting a secondary analysis study to identify risk and protective factor trajectories for maltreated youth during the transition from middle childhood to early adolescence and how these trajectories influence their well-being. The study uses data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), the first national probability survey of children assessed following a child maltreatment report. This study targets the transition from middle childhood to early adolescence because it is a significant period during which many life patterns are established. By identifying risk and protective factor trajectories for this population and understanding how these trajectories influence outcome, the proposed study will enable policymakers to more effectively choose and time intervention services to improve child outcomes. Because a large proportion of Child Welfare System (CWS) cases are linked to parental substance abuse which, in turn, is associated with higher risk of poor child outcomes, we plan to examine this factor in detail. This study can also make an important contribution to the substance abuse and child welfare research knowledge base because there is a lack of research on trajectories of risk and protective factors during the transition to adolescence that includes the range of risk and protective factors available in the NSCAW dataset.

Modeling Risk and Protective Factors for the Well-being of Maltreated Youth was funded by the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, grant 1 R03 HD058235, from January 2009 to December 2010. No cost extension to December 2011.


Women, Methamphetamine, and Sex
Alison Hamilton, Ph.D., M.P.H. Principal Investigator (alisonh@ucla.edu)

This 5-year project focuses on the relationship between methamphetamine (MA) and sex among women MA users. Thirty women in residential treatment participated in in-depth interviews. They were asked about their history of using MA and other substances, their life experiences (including any trauma or abuse they may have experienced), and their perspectives on how MA has affected their lives, specifically, their intimate relationships and sexual behaviors. Now in the follow-up phase, these participants are being interviewed about their experiences since the first interview. Recovery, relapse, intimate relationships, and several other topics are being explored. As a career development award, the project also involved training for the principal investigator (PI) in public health and community health sciences. This study will add to the body of literature on the impact of substance abuse on life experiences. Considering that women who abuse substances such as MA typically have multiple factors placing them at risk for poor sexual decision-making (e.g., histories of violence and abuse), a more in-depth understanding of how women MA users conceptualize their sexual behaviors and experiences could assist in developing interventions for them. The PI’s co-mentors on the project are Drs. Richard Rawson (UCLA ISAP), Yih-Ing Hser (UCLA ISAP), and Vivian Brown (PROTOTYPES).

Women, Methamphetamine and Sex was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant 1 K01 DA017647 (April 2006 through March 2011).


Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure and School Age Outcome
Barry Lester, M.D., Brown University, Principal Investigator
Richard A. Rawson, Ph.D., Co-Investigator (rrawson@mednet.ucla.edu)
Jeffrey Annon, M.A., Project Director

The rapidly escalating abuse of methamphetamine (METH) in the United States, places a sense of urgency on understanding the consequences of METH use during pregnancy for the developing child. To our knowledge, IDEAL (Infant Development Environment and Lifestyle) is the only prospective longitudinal NIH study of prenatal METH exposure and child outcome. This is the continuation of a multi-site, longitudinal study that includes 4 diverse data collection sites where METH use is prevalent (Iowa, Oklahoma, California, and Hawaii) and 3 data coordinating centers (Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk, the Data Management Center at UCLA ISAP, and the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) at the University of Maryland.  The responsibilities of the 3 data coordinating centers include study development and oversight, data management, communication and documentation. The children were enrolled at birth and assessed at multiple age points until 36 months old during Phase I of this study (IDEAL I). The cohort is now being followed during Phase II, which spans the age range from 5 years old through 7.5 years old (IDEAL II).

We have followed 204 METH exposed and 208 Comparison children since birth. We are currently at an important age range when executive function neural networks develop and children make the critical transition to school. We are studying a relatively narrow band of executive function domain outcomes supported by the published preclinical and clinical literature and our own preliminary findings. We also plan to study how these executive function domains affect school-related academic skills.

Our preliminary findings show effects of prenatal METH exposure on fetal growth, and on behavior between birth and 3 years on arousal-regulation, attention, and inhibitory control, with some effects due to heavy METH exposure. These effects suggest that motor development and precursors of executive function may be affected by prenatal METH exposure. We also found effects of psychosocial risk factors including low SES, family conflict, maternal psychiatric status and abuse potential, and out-of-home placement. We are in the process of studying the effects of prenatal METH exposure on emerging executive function domains including higher order motivation, attention, memory, inhibitory control, visual motor integration, and motor control, and how the effects of prenatal METH exposure are affected by psychosocial risk factors and by postnatal passive drug exposure (e.g., smoke).

Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure and School Age Outcome was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to Women & Infants Hospital with collaboration by UCLA ISAP (September 2007 through May 2012).

Last Updated:  11/16/2011

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