March 2020
Project Spotlight
Helping Medical Providers Combat Opioid Addiction
Medication assisted treatment (MAT) integrates behavioral health and social services interventions with treatment using FDA-approved medication for opioid use disorder, like methadone or buprenorphine. Patients receiving medications as part of their opioid addiction treatment are 75% less likely to die because of their addiction than those not receiving medications.

UNC ECHO for MAT is a project at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research focused on understanding the barriers healthcare networks and medical providers face when deciding whether to offer MAT in their practices. The team evaluates strategies to address those obstacles and provides education and support for practices to expand access to MAT in North Carolina.

UNC ECHO provides:

  • Case-based learning via video conferencing via live, web-based sessions. Participants and clinical experts will discuss real cases and share knowledge, experience, and recommendations. A didactic presented by a member of the clinical team will also be shared during the session. 
  • One-on-one consultations with addiction medicine experts.
  • Support from practice coaches who provide support and education for office staff which can include developing workflows, practice policies, and education for staff.

The UNC ECHO effort has expanded to all 100 North Carolina counties and includes partnerships with other agencies and groups that are developing additional ECHO clinics.

UNC ECHO for MAT is supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS)/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Research News
Improving Quality of Life for Older North Carolinians
Co-Director of the Program on Aging, Disability, and Long-Term Care Sheryl Zimmerman, PhD, is leading a study to find new practices to improve quality of life for residents in assisted living facilities. As many as 97% of people with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias experience at least one behavioral or psychological symptom, the most common being apathy, depression, irritability, agitation, and anxiety.

The use of antipsychotic medications to treat these symptoms is now strongly discouraged. In response, this project will develop and evaluate standardized protocols for two evidence-based non-pharmacologic practices to address behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia that are likely to be feasible for use by and acceptable to assisted living providers.
Support the Sheps Center
Give UNC is coming on March 31, 2020. You can support the Sheps Center online . Stay tuned for challenges and other information!

Publication News
A newly published book by UNC faculty, entitled “Retirement Migration from the U.S. to Latin American Colonial Cities , explores the trend of retirees to relocate internationally to southerly destinations. To date, most research on this phenomenon has focused on retirees’ themselves; in contrast, this book describes the results of a study funded by the National Geographic Society aimed at addressing retiree impact on the economy, environment, and social relationships of two major destination communities: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and Cuenca, Ecuador.

The book, edited by Philip Sloane, MD, MPH, Sheryl Zimmerman, MSW, PhD, and Johanna Silbersack, MSW, offers a range of recommendations for communities looking to either mitigate or attract the new wave of retiree migration.
Upcoming Events
Interdisciplinary Seminar Series in Health Equity
  • Tuesday, April 7 from 2:00pm to 3:00pm - Health Sciences Library Room 328
Speakers: Diane Berry, PhD, ANP-BC, FAANP, FAAN and Lori Carter-Edwards, PhD (dissemination, outreach, and community engagement in health disparities)

UNC Rural Health Research Seminar Series

Triangle Health Economics Workshops