Health Behavior research cluster announces seed funding

East Carolina University’s Health Behavior research cluster announced research project seed funding for a pair of faculty-led projects in April.

Kori Brewer, associate chief of research in the Brody School of Medicine, received $19,170 in funding for her project “Improving opioid analgesia while minimizing drug abuse.” Assistant professor Jie Yang and interim director for the School of Social Work Joseph Lee, both of the College of Health and Human Performance, also received $6,400 in funding for their project “Exploring factors associated with drug use/misuse and disparities among middle aged and older adults.”

Brewer’s project examines the pain treatment properties of opioids and its risk of misuse, abuse and addiction. The project focuses on the need to develop a substance that allows opioid doses to be minimized, but also remain effective enough to treat patient pain. Its goal is to remove chronic pain management using opioids as a risk factor for substance abuse in eastern North Carolina and beyond.

Yang and Lee’s project also explores the use and misuse of drugs with a focus on middle aged and older adults. The research team recognized that older adults are increasingly engaged in illicit drug use and misuse of prescription drugs. They aim to explore the psychosocial and behavioral factors that are associated with drug use/abuse among older adults in the United States.

Additionally, the project aims to examine drug use and health disparities between sexual minority older adults and their heterosexual counterparts. The pair hopes the project can make a significant contribution to and lead to research collaborations under the Health Behavior cluster around the opioid epidemic, as older adults, particularly sexual minority older adults, are much less studied compared to either younger adults or heterosexual counterparts.

Established in 2018, the Health Behavior research cluster focuses on improving the region’s population’s health and wellness through human empowerment. The cluster places an emphasis on studying birth to adult populations to reduce impact and risk of mental health, substance abuse and other risk behaviors.

The cluster is co-directed by Lisa Campbell, associate professor in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, and Angela Lamson, professor in the College of Health and Human Performance.