Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, was elected into the National Academy of Medicine. She joins three more faculty members of the Johns Hopkins University to be elected in 2019.
Through its domestic and global initiatives, the National Academy of Medicine works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy. New members are elected by current members through a selective process that recognizes people who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.
Barry's research focuses on how health and social policies can affect a range of outcomes for individuals with substance use disorders and mental illness, including access to medical care and social services, care quality, health care spending, financial protection and mortality. In addition, she conducts empirical research to understand how communication strategies influence public attitudes about addiction, mental illness and violence. A focus of this work is to identify evidence-based approaches to reducing stigma. She has led research studies funded by the NIH and various foundations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund and the Arnold Foundation. She has authored over 180 peer-reviewed publications on a range of health policy and public health topics in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Pediatrics, Health Affairs and the American Journal of Public Health. Barry holds a joint appointment in the Department of Mental Health and is founding co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research. She is a core faculty member with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. She is Principal Investigator of the Johns Hopkins NIMH T32 Mental Health Services and Systems Training Grant. She serves on various national advisory boards on policy related to addiction, mental health and violence. She recently served as a member of the National Academy of Medicine Consensus Panel on Medication Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder. Barry is also co-chair of the Forum on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the 19th U.S. Surgeon General and previous Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, will join the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as the Distinguished Policy Scholar, beginning in September 2019.
Murthy served as U.S. Surgeon General under President Barack Obama, focusing his tenure on pressing public health issues, from the opioid epidemic and e-cigarettes to vaccine-preventable illness and emotional well-being. He released the first Surgeon General’s Report on substance use disorders as well as the first federal report on e-cigarettes and youth.
The Distinguished Policy Scholar program, housed in the Bloomberg School’s department of health policy and management, was created to bring national policy leaders to campus to collaborate with faculty and students on pressing public health challenges. During a year-long residence, the Distinguished Policy Scholar takes part in wide-ranging research, education, and public health practice activities in partnership with faculty.
Murthy follows Michael Botticelli, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who served as Distinguished Policy Scholar at the Bloomberg School in 2018. Other former Distinguished Policy Scholars include former Congressman Henry Waxman, of California, and former Governor Ronnie Musgrove, of Mississippi.
Beth McGinty, PhD, MS, Center deputy director, was part of a group of experts who presented at the United Nations Technical Consultation on Stigma in Vienna, Austria this past January. The meeting, which aimed to develop recommendations for UN member nations to reduce stigma toward substance use disorder, was attended by addiction stigma experts, including researchers, government, non-government, advocates and people with lived experience from 15 different countries.
McGinty’s presentation, “Identifying and Addressing Challenges in Stigma Research Approaches,” provided an overview of the state of the research evidence surrounding ways to address addiction stigma, highlighting research produced by the Center on communication strategies, message framing, and stigmatizing language.
As a result of the meeting, the panel of experts developed a blueprint of specific recommendations for how to implement UN resolution 61/11, “Promoting non-stigmatizing attitudes to ensure the availability, access and delivery of health, care and social services for drug users.” The recommendations include strategies for addressing public, self, and structural addiction stigma as well as suggestions for needed research. The technical consultation panel is currently working on developing a report, which will be "launched” to member nations in an event later this year. Stay tuned!
New Research: U.S. News Media Coverage of Opioid Crisis Features More Public Health Solutions
A study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined news coverage of the opioid crisis from 2013 through 2017 and found that treatment and harm reduction were the most frequently mentioned solutions. At the same time, the study found that several evidence-based public health approaches received scant coverage over the five-year period.
The paper was published online July 22, 2019 in the journal Preventive Medicine.
For their study, the researchers analyzed a random sample of 600 U.S. news stories published/aired by high circulation/viewership national and local print and television news outlets from 2013 to 2017.
The researchers found that 33 percent of the news stories mentioned treatment, 30 percent mentioned harm reduction and 24 percent mentioned prevention. However, several specific types of evidence-based public health solutions received little news coverage: 9 percent of news stories mentioned medication treatment for opioid use disorder. Five percent mentioned harm reduction solutions syringe services programs and two percent mentioned safe consumption sites.
“This is good progress,” says Dr. Beth McGinty, associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy Management and the paper’s lead author. “More coverage of key evidence-based solutions, like medication treatment for opioid use disorder, syringe services programs and safe consumption sites, would help educate the public and policymakers.”
Earlier research found that from 1998 to 2012, news media coverage of the opioid epidemic focused on criminal justice-oriented solutions.
New ALACRITY Center at Hopkins Focusing on the Health and Longevity of Youth and Adults with Mental Illness
Several faculty from our Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research leadership team recently obtained NIMH funding to launch the ALACRITY Center for Health and Longevity in Mental Illness. This new Center is funded by the NIMH Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) program. The Center focuses on improving physical health and reducing premature mortality among people with serious mental illness. Its primary research initiatives aim to improve implementation of evidence-based weight loss, tobacco smoking cessation, and cardiovascular care interventions in community mental health settings. The Center’s Methods Core is engaged in developing practical and scientific products to support scale-up of physical health interventions in community mental health settings. The new Center is led by CMHAPR faculty Gail Daumit (Director) and Beth McGinty (Associate Director), along with Liz Stuart (Co-Director of the ALACRITY Methods Core) and Colleen Barry (Investigator). Multiple faculty from across Johns Hopkins are also involved.
We look forward to seeing all the great work this Center will be doing over the coming years!