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TCU’s Institute of Behavioral Research (IBR) utilizes its $3.1 million portion of a larger $11.5 million grant to advance its ACTION research project. The project includes the use of a Mobile Health Unit (MHU), which will serve individuals who either have or are at risk for acquiring HIV or a substance use disorder. The project will initially concentrate on historically underserved areas including Northside, Como, Diamond Hill, and Eastside/Stop Six neighborhoods. Kevin Knight, director of the IBR, says “We are targeting Tarrant County justice-involved individuals, for example the 15,000 individuals currently on probation, who are using opioids and/or methamphetamines. Substance use and HIV risk often go hand in hand among those in the criminal justice system.” 

ACTION, which stands for “Addressing Risk Through Community Treatment for Infectious Disease and Opioid Use Disorder Now Among Justice-Involved Populations,” is led by experts at TCU, Yale, and UT Southwestern and includes partnerships with service provider leaders in the participating communities. ACTION represents the opportunity to engage in a community-wide effort focused on addressing gaps along the service/prevention cascade of care for the target population, with the primary goal being the improvement of linkage to HIV prevention and treatment, as well as medication for opioid use disorder and related services. The study examines the efficacy of two models, one using the MHU and the other using Patient Navigators to connect participants to community resources. 

“Regarding drug use In Texas, the number of opioid overdose deaths has more than quadrupled since 1999, and the state ranks 12th in the country in the number of opioid related overdose deaths in 2016 with 1,375, and second in the country for total health care costs from opioid misuse at nearly $2 billion per year,” says Knight. Delivery of the unit happened in late December, and data collection will begin this spring. The MHU features two clinical areas, a blood draw station, an exam table, and a medical refrigerator. IBR staff will be operating the unit with medical services provided by JPS Health Network. Select students from the TCU School of Medicine will be assisting as part of their four-year Scholarly Pursuit and Thesis course.

Learn more about TCU's Institute of Behavioral Research.