University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health (UIC SPH) researcher, Dr. Mary Ellen Mackesy-Amiti, was recently awarded a two-year R21 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R21DA039010). Dr. Mackesy-Amiti’s exploratory study, “Emotion Dysregulation and Risky Behavior Among People Who Inject Drugs”, will test the acceptability and feasibility of ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to study mood and behavior in young people who inject drugs (PWID). This study will also gather preliminary data on emotion regulation, mood, and injection behavior among young PWID in the context of everyday activities.
Dr. Mackesy-Amiti’s research team will collect real-time data from PWID on their mood and behavior several times a day over a two-week period using a smartphone app. EMA as a data collection method will greatly reduce biases associated with retrospective recall, and can capture the interplay of mood and behavior over time.
The results from this exploratory study are expected to inform the development of a larger, full-scale study to examine the associations among negative affect, emotion dysregulation, and injection risk behavior in PWID. This research will have implications for interventions for PWID with emotion regulation difficulties, to reduce risky injection behavior and to promote entry into treatment for substance abuse and mental health. In addition, this study will also inform the potential use of EMA methodology with active drug users in the community for other research purposes, such as social network studies and studies of sexual risk behaviors.
Dr. Mackesy-Amiti is a research associate professor in the UIC SPH Community Outreach Intervention Projects (COIP), housed within Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She joined the COIP faculty in 2005, after earning her PhD in Psychology from UIC in 1993 and working at the Institute for Juvenile Research for several years. Driven by a desire to help address significant social problems, Dr. Mackesy-Amiti’s research interests focus on issues surrounding substance use and health risk behavior, particularly research that can inform interventions for harm reduction and cessation.
Dr. Mackesy-Amiti’s R21 builds logically on a prior study of the mental health of young injection drug users led by fellow COIP faculty, Dr. Lawrence Ouellet. Dr. Ouellet’s study found that injection risk behavior (sharing syringes and equipment) was associated with past year substance-induced major depression and with borderline personality disorder, which is characterized by problems with emotion regulation and impulsivity.
The project will begin in July.