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NIAAA Newsletter

Special Issue on Health Status of American Indians and Alaska Natives

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA’s) Judith Arroyo, Ph.D., Minority Health and Health Disparities Coordinator, and Marcia Scott, Ph.D., Project Officer, Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, were guest editors of a special issue of The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (Volume 38, Issue 5, 2012). The special edition contains 24 research papers covering many of the most important and urgent issues surrounding alcohol and substance use among American Indian and Alaska Native communities, including how it affects high-risk groups such as adolescents and pregnant women. 

“This special edition appears to be the first compilation of reports of evidence-based research on alcohol and drug abuse research among American Indian and Alaska Natives,” said Dr Judith A. Arroyo. “For a long time, the literature on American Indian and Alaska Natives substance use consisted predominantly of reports that, while informing the field about important issues, failed to include empirical data-based results.”

The material for the issue was based on research presented at the conference “Building Bridges: Advancing American Indian/Alaska Native Substance Abuse Research: A State of the Science and Grant Development Workshop,” sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, with the collaboration of NIAAA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

This 2010 workshop brought together experts and stakeholders from across academic institutions, tribal communities, and government to discuss research findings and research opportunities in American Indian and Alaska Native substance abuse research. The results of this research have led to numerous advances, as documented in the special issue. The full table of contents is available at: http://informahealthcare.com/toc/ada/38/5.

“This collection of articles fills a significant research gap with work that maintains respect for the communities that participated, while contributing to the rigorous empirical literature in these areas of critically pressing health concerns,” said Dr. Arroyo. “This special edition is the result of close collaboration between the two Institutes, NIAAA and NIDA, providing an excellent example of how cross-Institute cooperation can yield extraordinary results.”

Drs. Arroyo and Scott also authored a paper in the issue, along with co-authors Kathleen Etz, Aria Crump, and Carmen Rosa. That article, titled “Advancing American Indian and Alaska Native Substance Abuse Research: Current Science and Future Directions,”  identifies areas of concern for the field of American Indian and Alaska Native public health and describes how other articles in the issue address gaps in health care for these groups. A summary of that article is available free at: informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/00952990.2012.712173, and the full article can be downloaded for a fee.