ATTC Messenger August 2016 Addiction Health Services Research Conference 2016: New Frontiers in Addiction Health Services: Science, Practice, & Policy
Addiction Health Services Research Conference 2016:
New Frontiers in Addiction Health Services: Science, Practice, & Policy
Traci Rieckmann, PhD, MS
The Addiction Health Services Research Conference returns to the Pacific Northwest this fall. AHSR 2016 will take place Oct. 13-15 in Seattle, hosted by the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington and the Northwest Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network.
This year’s conference theme is “New Frontiers in Addiction Health Services: Science, Practice and Policy.“ The carefully planned sessions bring together researchers, policymakers, practitioners, scholars, trainees and other stakeholders with a vital interest in health services research related to drug and alcohol abuse and behavioral health. Those attending will discuss the social, political, fiscal, regulatory and other factors that impact substance abuse prevention, treatment and related health services. This event is driven by the enthusiasm and engagement of our participants and we look forward to leading edge research, clinical service updates, and policy studies that showcase our dynamic and evolving field.
Health Services Research
Interest in Health Services Research (HSR) (sometimes Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR)) has grown tremendously over the past decade and a half. During the 2000s, international conferences cemented the place of HSR as important and relevant in discussions about practical health care implementation. HSR answers critical questions needed to 1) drive interdependent systems change, 2) make day to day clinical care decisions, 3) influence policy, and 4) advance quality of care and organizational change management.
HSR, as a field, is cross-disciplinary and advancing rapidly as it aligns with current advancements in health care overall. Ultimately, HSR seeks to identify evidence-based practices that can be implemented in a cost effective way. Researchers also work to identify organizational, personal and structural challenges to implementation and how to overcome them. That approach has become increasingly important not just to maximize positive outcomes for patients but also to help policymakers choose between competing models of treatment. Mental and behavioral health have overcome patient, provider and public stigma, thanks in no small part, to HSR.
As a discipline HSR is growing due to its greater alignment with health care transformation and the co-creation of effective services. Unlike basic science, HSR is applied and involves quality of care, service re-design and real world capacity building. It aligns with the triple aim of health care and AcademyHealth, defines HSR as “the multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation that studies how social factors, financing systems, organizational structures and processes, health technologies, and personal behaviors affect access to health care, the quality and cost of health care, and ultimately our health and well-being. Its research domains are individuals, families, organizations, institutions, communities, and populations.”
Addiction Health Services Research Conference 2016
When: October 13-15
Where: Seattle, Motif Seattle Hotel
(Conference rates available)
Registration: Early Bird Registration open until September 1!
Ultimately, HSR seeks to identify evidence-based practices that can be implemented in a cost effective way. Researchers also work to identify organizational, personal and structural challenges to implementation and how to overcome them. That approach has become increasingly important not just to maximize positive outcomes for patients but also to help policymakers choose between competing models of treatment. Mental and behavioral health have overcome patient, provider and public stigma thanks in no small part to HSR.
HSR performs especially well when investigating underserved communities. Populations that have unique, culturally-specific needs are not always well served by broad-based research. HSR finds the strategies and practices that can overcome cultural barriers to successful treatment.
About the AHSR Conference
The Addiction Health Services Research Conference is a major annual event at the intersection of the drug/alcohol abuse and health services fields. At AHSR, senior and junior investigators, providers and policymakers from across the country share current research and hone their ideas for future investigations and applications in these fields.
The conference is an invaluable venue for extended, face-to-face interaction between investigators and program officials from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and other institutes and centers within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The proceedings are highly interactive compared to most other conferences, and there are many opportunities for informal discussions during the program and during social events.
AHSR began as a series of informal meetings between the University of Miami and the University of Kentucky more than two decades ago. By the late 1990s, those meetings evolved into formal annual gatherings drawing 30 to 50 attendees. Most early attendees were affiliated with NIDA F (the review group for NIDA’s health services research proposals), and NIDA continues to have a strong presence at the conference every year. AHSR is unusual in that it is not run year-to-year by a formal network or official organization and is self-funded. A committed group of individuals who recognize the importance of addiction services and research enthusiastically volunteer to organize and support the conference. Interest in the conference has grown steadily and about 230 people attended the 2015 conference, and organizers expect even more this year.
The conference meets in cities across the country. It last was in the Pacific Northwest in 2013 in Portland.
The personal, health and societal challenges of addiction are always present, but this year especially they have moved from the shadows into the fore of public health policy debate. A confluence of events ensures that this year’s AHSR conference will be a timely addition to an important national dialogue.
Congress this year finally approved a bill to confront the national opioid epidemic. Whatever one thinks of the specifics of the bill, it is notable that lawmakers were able to pass something when other important bills stagnate in partisan gridlock.
They had little choice. Substance abuse and its deleterious effects on individuals, families and communities are front-page news. Addiction is an epidemic, and one that the nation cannot ignore.
Meanwhile, the Affordable Care Act encourages transformation of behavioral health and addiction services. It requires insurers to cover screening and counseling for substance use disorders, depression, tobacco use and other behavioral health conditions. By placing these needs into a primary care setting, the health care system supports an ideological shift toward treating them as legitimate health care issue, free of the stigma that for too long limited access and treatment opportunities.
With this context in mind and building, AHSR 2016 will focus on four themes, each with a plenary session featuring national experts:
- Changing Landscapes, Changing Policies: Issues related to evolving policies on marijuana legalization and/or policing, medication assisted treatment, harm reduction (e.g. access to needle exchange or safe injection sites), naloxone distribution and training, etc.
- Dr. Carlos Blanco, Director of NIDA Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research
- Dr. Susan Ettner, Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, UCLA
- Integration of Addiction Medicine: Issues related to the integration of addiction treatment and primary health care, addiction services in non-health settings, care coordination models, implementation strategies, and the impact of the ACA on treatment for substance use disorders.
- Dr. Katharine Bradley, Senior Investigator, Group Health Research Institute
- Health Disparities & Equities: Issues related to treatment access, quality and outcomes for diverse populations.
- Dr. Karina Walters, Professor, School of Social Work, University of Washington
- Dr. Janice Sabin, Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, University of Washington
- Co-occurring Substance Use & Infectious Disease: Issues of prevention and treatment of co-occurring substance use with HIV/AIDS, HCV and other infectious diseases.
- Dr. Jeffrey Samet, Professor of Medicine and of Community Health Sciences, Boston University
AHSR also will host poster sessions, breakout sessions, individual oral presentations and symposium panels that afford even greater direct interaction. Events outside of the conference will include receptions and social gatherings.
AHSR provides a special opportunity for collaboration to develop knowledge and apply research to this crucial issue to the nation. Policymakers will leave fully informed about best practices for delivering treatment to diverse patients. Researchers will leave with a firmer grasp of what their peers are discovering and inspired by new avenues of potential investigation.
Organizers are excited to welcome AHSR 2016 to Seattle, the Emerald City. The Northwest is a locus for research into use of evidence-based treatments in American Indian communities. The special challenges there offer lessons for engaging with other communities in which substance abuse rates are acutely high.
The Motif Seattle Hotel, site of the conference, is centrally located in the city with easy access to many attractions, restaurants and venues. The famous Pike Place Market, renowned Seattle Art Museum and more are within easy walking distance. The Space Needle is an easy monorail ride away, and Washington’s stunning forests and mountains lie in all directions by car or ferry ride across Puget Sound.