WKU faculty member gets grant for more than $400,000 to continue substance use research

Dr. Teeters said the award would greatly enhance her ability to receive future National Institutes of Health funding related to this research area and will enhance the reputation of the Department of Psychological Sciences
University Photographer
Courtesy: WKU

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WTVQ/PRESS RELEASE) — Dr. Jenni Teeters, assistant professor in Western Kentucky University’s Department of Psychological Sciences, has received a $417,056 grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse for her project on the evaluation of a mobile-phone based intervention aimed at reducing substance-impaired driving among young adults.

Dr. Teeters said rates of alcohol and drug impaired driving remain especially high among the young adult age group, and substance-related traffic accidents remain the leading cause of substance-related death among this age group. “If the intervention is found to be efficacious in reducing substance impaired driving, we hope to disseminate it to students at WKU, young adults in the Bowling Green community, and potentially young adults across the state of Kentucky in order to reduce substance-impaired driving on campus and in surrounding communities,” she said.

The three-year grant award will support the first-ever clinical trial aimed at reducing driving after drug use and simultaneous alcohol and drug use, she said. “Receiving this R15 award will have significant impact and allow for expanding my reputation as a leader in the field of technology-based interventions for substance use behaviors,” Dr. Teeters said. “I’m confident that the proposed clinical trial will lead to presentations and publications that will be of critical interest to other substance use researchers as well as the general public.”

Dr. Teeters said the award would greatly enhance her ability to receive future National Institutes of Health funding related to this research area and will enhance the reputation of the Department of Psychological Sciences and WKU as a student-centered applied research university.

WKU undergraduate and graduate students in Dr. Teeters’ Technology Enhancing Community Health (TECH) lab will be involved in all aspects of this project, from intervention development to evaluation to dissemination. Students will help with recruiting participants, conducting eligibility screenings, collecting substance use assessments, delivering text-message based interventions, and managing participant follow-ups and payments. Students will also have the opportunity to present poster presentations at national conferences and to submit manuscripts for publication, which will prepare them for future graduate study and careers in health and science fields.

All students will be extensively trained in Motivational Interviewing, a therapy style that will prepare them for future interactions with patients, clients, and/or other people in general and the Timeline Followback assessment, a widely used calendar-based method that has shown to be a reliable and valid self-report assessment of substance use. Students will gain valuable interpersonal skills that will prepare them for not only graduate study but also a wide variety of interpersonal situations.

Dr. Teeters also expressed her gratitude for the KY-INBRE (Kentucky IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence) program for funding the pilot work that led to this R15 award. “This program has been instrumental in starting my research lab which has allowed me to mentor 24 WKU undergraduate and graduate students since 2018. In this time, my lab has presented over 40 poster presentations at local, regional, national, and international conferences.”

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