The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced more than $11 million over three years to support research exploring the use of social media to advance the scientific understanding, prevention, and treatment of substance use and addiction.
The awards are funded through the Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN), an NIH consortium involving the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The consortium was established to integrate resources and expertise to advance research and improve public health outcomes related to the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other addictive substances. NIAAA, NIDA, and NCI are components of the National Institutes of Health.
Researches will look at platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to gain insights into patterns of use, risk factors, and behaviors associated with substance use. By providing a platform for communicating science-based, health-related messages, social media may also enhance screening, prevention, and treatment of substance use and addiction.
To help address these needs, CRAN issued two funding opportunities to support research that leverages social media platforms to advance the scientific understanding of substance use or improve the treatment and prevention of behaviors related to substance use.
“Social media has the potential to fill important gaps in our current understanding of tobacco, alcohol and drug use and to improve the efficacy of substance abuse interventions. For example, user-generated social media interactions can reveal important insights into substance use patterns and various social factors,” Dr. Wen-ying (Sylvia) Chou, program director in NCI’s Health Communications and Informatics Research Branch and NCI’s program contact for the funding opportunities, said in a statement. “Social media platforms also have the potential to increase the effectiveness of substance use prevention and treatment efforts by providing technologically mediated solutions.”