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ETSU awarded $2.2 million to research prescription drug abuse

June 13th, 2013 4:30 pm by Staff Report

ETSU awarded $2.2 million to research prescription drug abuse

East Tennessee State University has received a $2.2 million research grant aimed at battling prescription drug abuse and misuse, a problem officials described as reaching "epidemic proportions."

The $2,230,000 award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse will launch a five-year interprofessional research program. Drawing on investigators from the colleges of Public Health, Pharmacy and Medicine in the ETSU Academic Health Sciences Center, an interdisciplinary team will target substance abuse prevention through research on multiple fronts, while developing additional research infrastructure at the university to address the topic.

While prescription drug abuse is a problem nationwide, the Southern Appalachia region is disproportionally affected. That makes this initiative especially relevant to the region, said Dr. Robert Pack, who is the principal investigator on the grant. Pack is a professor and associate dean for Academic Affairs at the ETSU College of Public Health.

The team will study how improving communication among health care providers who prescribe drugs, pharmacists who dispense them, and the patients who receive them can reduce illicit use of prescription medicines. They will also study how well health care providers think that they communicate with patients about substance abuse, and how prepared they feel to intervene in cases of suspected substance abuse. The researchers will also quantify outcomes of drug take-back events and drug donation boxes where substances with potential for abuse are removed from households.

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