Although individual researchers and projects have focused on underrepresented populations and populations critically in need of services, drug users remain excluded from research studies and unlinked to services. This proposed study will change the research landscape through the existing Center for Community Based Research, a pivotal component of the Washington University CTSA. In this new NIDA initiative, we will extend our successful NIDA model to actively recruit and enroll multi-generational underrepresented populations, specifically drug users, into research studies and will link them to desperately needed health and social services. Working with the multiple cores of the Washington University CTSA, this project will recruit, enroll and follow up participants to achieve these specific aims: 1.) Conduct a Needs Assessments among investigators, coordinators, IRB members and Human Research Protection Office (HRPO) staff to understand attitudes toward excluding, enrolling and retaining underrepresented populations, including drug users, in research;2.) Evaluate the findings from the Needs Assessment to formulate educational guidelines and recommendations to make research more inclusive. 3a.) Extend our CTSA street-based outreach model to target persons with recent illicit drug use and link them to the CCBR, where they will be referred to health services, assessed for medical and psychiatric history, and invited to participate in Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) research studies;3b.) Randomize 200 study-eligible participants to either the newly established CCBR navigator model of referral to a relevant WUSM study, or to an enhanced navigation model where a "study ambassador" guides the participant through all research stages. Effectiveness will be assessed at 30 days, 2 months and 3 months after randomization;3c.) Evaluate the effectiveness of the model to refer participants to primary care homes and other needed services, to increase satisfaction with navigation, to reduce perceived discrimination, and to report fewer barriers to participation. This grant will provide the opportunity to further translate and disseminate evidence- based practices across all arenas of public health for drug users.
This project will enhance public health by increasing the generalizability of medical research studies by developing, using and evaluating innovative methods to recruit and enroll multi- generational underrepresented populations, including drug users, into relevant research studies. These community-based research services will reduce researchers'perceptions that enrolling and retaining underrepresented populations is difficult, provide a catalyst to revise stringent inclusion/exclusion criteria to include these underrepresented populations, and link participants with critical and previously unattainable services.
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