Marshaling communities to stop substance abuse

Program engages community members in research, training, and outreach

Substance abuse exacts a heavy toll on American Indians and Alaska Natives. John Roll, professor and senior vice chancellor for WSU Spokane, aims to stem that population’s tide of addiction by launching a community-based research, training, and outreach center.

The Behavioral Health Collaborative for Rural American Indian Communities will examine multiple influences on behavioral health throughout patients’ lifespans. It is funded by a $5.5 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (part of the National Institutes of Health).

Working with co-investigator Sterling McPherson and other investigators at the University of Washington and WSU, the team will build partnerships with members of the American Indian community throughout the Inland Northwest and engage them in key roles in the Center. Scientific research will be combined with a community-based participatory approach. The Center will reach out to people of all ages—children, college students, and adults. Dr. Roll and Dr. McPherson hope to build deep ties to American Indian communities, bringing people together to achieve common goals: improving health and quality of life.