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Release: Nov. 8, 1999

UI receives Wellmark grant to produce substance abuse CD-ROM

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Substance Abuse Counseling Program and the Prairielands Addiction Technology Transfer Center (Prairielands ATTC) have received a $95,000 Wellmark Foundation grant to develop a training program and produce a CD-ROM to help healthcare professionals detect and assess drug and alcohol abuse.

The primary purpose of the grant is to train frontline professionals such as physicians, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists and dentists in the early identification and assessment of substance abuse problems among their patients. People with substance abuse health problems also benefit from early intervention and follow-up after treatment, which will be incorporated in the training. The CD-ROM will include information that professionals will find helpful when working with substance abusers, especially pregnant women and Native Americans with substance abuse problems.

Anne Helene Skinstad, the project’s principal investigator and coordinator of the Substance Abuse Counseling Program, said she expects the CD-ROM to be ready for pilot testing in Iowa and South Dakota within a year.

"Usually, when you develop a CD-ROM, it’s limiting because information can get outdated so quickly," said Skinstad, who is also an assistant professor in the University of Iowa College of Education’s Division of Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development. "But in this project, the disk will be interactive with the Internet and users will have access to the very latest information."

The CD-ROM is a cooperative project involving addiction experts at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and in the University of Iowa’s Colleges of Education, Public Health and Nursing as well as the College of Medicine’s departments of family medicine and pharmacology. Duane Mackey at the University of South Dakota is the coordinator for Prairielands ATTC in South Dakota and is assisting the project's development related to Native Americans.

The Wellmark grant is for one year, but Skinstad said the project could be extended another year so results of the pilot testing can be incorporated before the CD-ROM is made more widely available.

The CD-ROM project is related to a curriculum being developed by a five-member team of addiction experts at the Prairielands ATTC to help healthcare and counseling professionals recognize substance abuse problems in the people they serve and refer them to treatment.

The Prairielands Addiction Technology Transfer Center, directed by Skinstad, is one of 13 regional Centers funded through the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) within the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA). The Prairielands ATTC will receive $525,000 annually for the next two years to enhance substance abuse education within Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The Center began operation in October 1998 and is located within the Substance Abuse Counseling Program, which has been preparing masters’ level professionals in substance abuse counseling for more than 25 years at the University of Iowa.

In addition, the Prairielands ATTC has four Centers of Excellence to address the special needs of sub-populations with substance abuse problems.

"We’re going to focus on substance abuse among four primary populations: Native Americans, patients with medical or psychiatric disorders, women and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons," said Skinstad, an internationally known expert on substance abuse and education. "But the overriding theme is substance abuse issues in rural and frontier states."

She said the Prairielands ATTC team will create online-based instruction and other alternative methods of providing substance abuse education for the target region, which is predominantly rural and frontier and has many Native American communities.