Section on Tobacco, Alcohol & Drug Use Research
Researchers in NYU Langone’s Section on Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use conduct population-level research to help understand addiction, evaluate strategies to prevent and treat substance use disorders, and integrate screening and treatment of addiction into routine primary care and the criminal justice system.
Our research initiatives include improving tobacco cessation rates among special populations, such as veterans and people with mental health diagnoses; integrating pharmacotherapy for opioid and alcohol dependence into primary care and criminal justice settings; and tracking emerging trends in drug abuse. The following are key active research projects, which are supported by federal, state, and foundation grants.
A Behavioral Economic Intervention to Improve Psychiatrist Adherence to Tobacco Treatment Guidelines
This study will randomize psychiatrists at the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System to an opt-out versus an opt-in approach to smoking cessation. All psychiatrists will receive training and clinical decision support to help their patients quit smoking. The default for clinical decision support will differ between the opt-out and opt-in arms. Erin Rogers, DrPH, MPH, and Scott E. Sherman, MD, MPH, are the principal investigators of this study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Center for Alternative Tobacco Product Studies
At the Center for Alternative Tobacco Product Studies, we train fellows and junior faculty for independent investigative careers studying alternative tobacco products—such as hookah and electronic cigarettes—as well as smoking. Projects include epidemiologic surveys of young adults, pilot studies of using electronic cigarettes for harm reduction in special populations, and toxicology studies measuring urinary biomarkers in people who use alternative tobacco products. New York State’s Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program funds the center. Scott E. Sherman, MD, MPH, and Terry Gordon, MD, are the principal investigators.
Comparing an Opt-Out with an Opt-In Approach for Smoking Cessation in VA Primary Care Clinics
Our investigators are exploring whether an opt-in or an opt-out approach to offering tobacco cessation programs to patients at the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System is the most effective. Patients in the opt-out arm of the study must fill out a form in order to not be referred to programs offered through the New York State Smokers’ Quitline or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national text messaging service. The VA’s Health Services Research and Development Service funds the study. Scott E. Sherman, MD, MPH, and Steven S. Fu, MD, are the principal investigators. See full study information.
Development of a Rapid Survey to Detect Use of New and Emerging Drugs
Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, is surveying 18- to 25-year-old attendees of nightclubs and dance festivals in New York City about their drug use. The goal is to document emerging psychoactive substances and their adverse effects in order to inform policymakers, researchers, and educators. NIDA funds this study.
Effectiveness of the Consult for Addiction Treatment and Care in Hospitals Model for Engaging Patients in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
Jennifer McNeely, MD, MS, is evaluating the effectiveness of addiction consult services in inpatient settings. These services start patients who are hospitalized for addiction on treatment medication and directly link them to treatment after they are discharged. NIDA funds this study.
Evaluation of Smoke-Free Housing Policy Impacts on Tobacco Smoke Exposure and Health Outcomes
With funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), principal investigators Donna Shelley, MD, MPH, and Lorna E. Thorpe, PhD, MPH, are evaluating the impact of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s smoke-free housing policy in New York City Housing Authority buildings. The study is looking at residents’ exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and related health outcomes, as well as how the policy is implemented.
Extended-Release Naltrexone and Extended-Release Buprenorphine Opioid Treatment at Jail-to-Community Re-Entry
Joshua D. Lee, MD, MSc, is the principal investigator on a study comparing the effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone with methadone and enhanced “treatment-as-usual” for adults who are dependent on opioids and leaving New York City jails. In the same population, he is conducting a proof-of-concept trial to test the effectiveness of the recently approved extended-release buprenorphine compared with sublingual buprenorphine-naloxone. NIDA funds these studies.
Extended-Release Versus Oral Naltrexone Alcohol Treatment in Primary Care
In a randomized controlled trial, principal investigator Joshua D. Lee, MD, MSc, is testing whether a newer, injectable, and more expensive form of naltrexone, extended-release naltrexone, is more effective at treating alcohol abuse compared with the older, cheaper oral form when used in primary care. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funds the study.
Feasibility and Acceptability of a Text Messaging Intervention to Increase Smoking Cessation in Vietnam
With funding from the NCI, Donna Shelley, MD, MPH, is testing the feasibility of using text messages to help people in Vietnam quit smoking, adapting these messages to the context, language, and communication styles of Vietnamese smokers.
In HealthyHearts NYC, we work with approximately 250 primary care practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City to evaluate whether practice facilitators are effective in helping practices transform the way they deliver care to improve heart health. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funds this study. Donna Shelley, MD, MPH, is the principal investigator.
Impact of Jail-Based Methadone on Overdose, Recidivism, HIV, Health Outcomes, and Costs in New York City
We are examining the effects of New York City jails’ large methadone maintenance program on overdose, recidivism, control of HIV, and costs after people are released from jail, by linking electronic health records from the city jails to longitudinal community health datasets. Joshua D. Lee, MD, MSc, is the principal investigator.
Implementing Tobacco Use Treatment Guidelines in Community Health Centers in Vietnam
Donna Shelley, MD, MPH, is the principal investigator on a study comparing two strategies for implementing evidence-based guidelines to treat tobacco use in public health clinics in Vietnam. NCI funds the study.
Integrating Financial Management Counseling and Smoking Cessation Counseling to Reduce Health and Economic Disparities in Low-Income Immigrants
In previous studies, we found that money was a major stressor for low-income smokers trying to quit smoking, yet they often had great difficulty turning their financial savings into an asset once they quit. We are testing the effectiveness of a program that integrates financial counseling with smoking cessation counseling for immigrants receiving care in two safety net healthcare systems in New York City. The Robin Hood Foundation funds the study. Scott E. Sherman, MD, MPH, and Erin Rogers, DrPH, MPH, are the principal investigators.
Leveraging Technology to Address Unhealthy Drug Use in Primary Care Settings
Primary care providers routinely address smoking and unhealthy alcohol use, but do not often address other substance use. Jennifer McNeely, MD, MS, is the principal investigator of a NIDA-funded trial studying the effectiveness of using health information technology to help primary care providers address unhealthy drug use.
New York City Treats Tobacco
New York City Treats Tobacco is funded by the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control and aims to partner with medical and behavioral healthcare systems and settings to improve treatment of tobacco use, increase quit rates, and reduce tobacco-related disease. Donna Shelley, MD, MPH, is the principal investigator.
NYU Abu Dhabi Public Health Research Center
At the NYU Abu Dhabi Public Health Research Center, based at NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus, we are conducting the UAE Health Future Study, one of the first cohort studies in the Middle East. We are recruiting 20,000 citizens from the United Arab Emirates to study the determinants of diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease because their rates in the UAE are among the highest in the world. As part of the study, we are also exploring additional research areas: smoking, genetics of obesity, and links between oral microbiome and cardiovascular disease. Raghib I. Ali, MD, and Scott E. Sherman, MD, MPH, are the principal investigators.
Optimizing Tobacco Treatment for Smokers Seeking Lung Cancer Screening
Current national guidelines recommend routine screening for lung cancer for at-risk adults, but few systems use this as an opportunity to help promote smoking cessation in those who have not yet quit. With funding from the NCI, Donna Shelley, MD, MPH, and Jamie Ostroff, PhD, from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, are studying the effectiveness of using the screening as a window of opportunity to help smokers quit.
Quit Smoking App for American and Russian University Students
Scott E. Sherman, MD, MPH, developed and evaluated a quit smoking app for American and Russian university students, a mobile health application that aims to reduce smoking among college students in the United States and Russia.
Proactive Care Coordination for Cancer Survivors Who Smoke
Erin Rogers, DrPH, MPH, and Paul Krebs, PhD, are principal investigators on a study comparing two methods for coordinating tobacco treatment for cancer survivors, to understand their effectiveness and patients’ satisfaction with each approach. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funds the study.
Text Messaging to Engage and Retain Veterans in Smoking Cessation Counseling
We are examining whether text messages help increase enrollment in telephone counseling sessions for smoking cessation, help remind patients of their appointments, and provide support between sessions. The VA’s Health Services Research and Development Service funds the study. Paul Krebs, PhD, and Scott E. Sherman, MD, MPH, are the principal investigators. See full study information.