Academic journal article Social Work Research

Development of the NIDA-Funded Center on Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

Academic journal article Social Work Research

Development of the NIDA-Funded Center on Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

Article excerpt

This article describes one school's effort to establish a social work research development center in the area of coexisting drug and mental disorders (dual disorders), within the context of the social work profession's efforts to compete more effectively for federal research grants. This center was funded as part of a successful application in response to the National Institute on Drug Abuses announcement of support for a Social Work Research Development Program stressing the development of social work research in drug abuse intervention and services research. The center builds on the school's previous research and training experiences in the area of co-occurring drug and mental disorders. The center's purpose, structure, and institutional impact are described, with particular attention to the challenges faced in both its formation and its operation and the lessons learned that could generalize to other similar efforts.

KEY WORDS: dual diagnosis; dual disorders; research development; research infrastructure; social work research

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In November 1999, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released a program announcement of support for a Social Work Research Development Program stressing the development of social work research in drug abuse intervention and services research. Below, we describe one school's effort to establish a social work research development center in the area of coexisting substance use and mental disorders (dual disorders) which was funded as part of this NIDA initiative.

ADDRESSING THE NIDA ANNOUNCEMENT

The Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (MSASS) at Case Western Reserve University has long recognized its responsibility to provide productive educational research experiences in the fields of substance use and mental disorders. Building on our past efforts, faculty at MSASS responded to NIDA'S program announcement for a Social Work Research Development Program. Our submission was funded in June 2002. This five-year project was designed to support a multidisciplinary study team to address the theme of facilitators and barriers to treatment in individuals with dual disorders: The program linked faculty at MSASS to experts in Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine who had existing NIDA research support and to national experts. The program's two objectives were (1) to establish and implement an infrastructure improvement plan that supports knowledge and research on treatment barriers and facilitators in dually diagnosed individuals and their families and (2) to generate pilot research and ensuing RO1 proposals in the identified core area through the establishment of multidisciplinary working teams. Eight MSASS faculty and collaborators from the School of Medicine formed the nucleus of a team to implement pilot studies related to facilitators of and barriers to treatment of dually diagnosed individuals. One pilot study investigated the social network characteristics and nature of perceived social support among dually diagnosed, low-income women; another studied dually diagnosed female offenders' suitability for specific treatments, considering their motivation for change and readiness for treatment and their social networks. A third pilot study examined the family caregivers of women with dual disorders, with particular attention given to their caregiving roles and burdens. More than 500 participants were interviewed at community agencies and in corrections settings to complete these pilot studies. Information generated from the pilot studies and other planned program learning experiences resulted in the preparation and submission of R01 proposals.

CHALLENGES

It is interesting that one of our major challenges came before we received grant funding. Although we had submitted a competitive program proposal that was scored, a major criticism was that the school did not offer enough faculty support and course offload. …

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