The LNC provides support to researchers, specializing in sampling, survey design, and project implementation. LNC services have continued to make an impact on our local research landscape by providing access to innovative resources for early-stage and established investigators. LNC efforts have made it easier for researchers to develop local projects, apply for federal grants, and extend research on substance use and related health disparities. The LNC provides five main services to researchers working through the RDAR Center or independently. To learn more, contact our LNC Coordinator Nova Gocchi Carrasco.
1. Data describing factors affecting regional patterns of substance use
The LNC’s Regional Health Cohort (RHC) provides access to longitudinal data on attitudes, behaviors, and social networks from persons who use drugs through 6-9 month interviews and responsive ecological momentary assessment. The LNC will continue to follow participants longitudinally and recruit new participants over the next 5 years to replenish the sample due to expected attrition. Using community-engaged outreach, peer-referral techniques, and rural partnerships, recruitment will continue to focus on those who are underrepresented in substance use research. In doing so, the LNC will strengthen this secondary data resource for RDAR-affiliated researchers and create new opportunities for innovative approaches to understanding regional patterns of substance use. For more information about secondary data resources, click here.
2. Access to a longitudinal cohort of people who use drugs from which to recruit study participants
The LNC also provides access to the RHC Participant Pool of individuals who have agreed to be contacted for other Center-affiliated research. The cost of creating and maintaining a cohort of this scope for 5 to 15 years is prohibitive for most investigators. This resource is integral to investigator success, substantially decreasing the start-up time for projects, reducing the cost of personnel training through shared staffing models, and increasing individual projects participant retention through regular interaction with the broader RHC Study. This resource has elevated and enhanced other campus centers, which have seen increased grant submission and service use in collaboration with researchers accessing the RHC Participant Pool. See https://rdar.unl.edu/regional-health-cohort for additional details.
3. Use of Core software to collect responsive fine-grained mobile Health data from participants
The LNC provides access to in-house software: (1) The Open Dynamic Interaction Network (ODIN) is a unique cellphone-based app, designed to map social network interactions, facilitate rEMA, and provide an avenue for just-in-time mobile health intervention messaging. At present, no other software exists that provides its level and range of functionalities. These include mobile continuous-time interaction data captured anonymously when participants interact; web-based, continuous, remote administration of survey questions and participant retention communication; and a specialized suite of dynamic interaction analysis tools to work with continuous time data and wearable sensors. (2) The Social Network Analysis via Perceptual Taxonomy (SNAPT) is a tablet-based platform that enables rapid mapping of both actual and perceived social networks, by having participants quickly sort photographs and answer questions about community members. (3) The Multi-Actor-Based Universal Simulation Environment (MABUSE) is a cloud-based agent-based simulator that generates ecologically valid synthetic (computational) social systems based on real-world social network and risk data (e.g., collected via ODIN and SNAPT). MABUSE can be used to map the potential long-term impacts of bio-behavioral public health interventions on epidemiological outcomes in a broad range of risk settings, including HIV and HCV among drug-using populations. For more information about LNC software, visit https://rdar.unl.edu/lnc-software.
4. Support for network sampling and analytic approaches
The LNC has expertise on network sampling and related analytic approaches. Project support typically falls into one or more ‘focus areas’ such as community health, sexual and gender minority participants, substance use, and homelessness. The LNC is available to offer a primer on sampling and population estimates for hard-to-reach and hidden populations that can be adapted for faculty, graduate student, or community audiences. To learn more about support services for network sampling and analytics, contact our LNC Coordinator Nova Gocchi Carrasco.
5. Consultation in community-engaged research, field-based biospecimen testing, epidemiological data collection, respondent driven sampling, prevention/intervention design, and research with hard-to-access populations.
For over a decade, LNC faculty and staff have collaborated on field-based data collection projects with hard-to-access and community populations. This includes peer network-based sampling in rural Puerto Rico; longitudinal studies with users of methamphetamine, cocaine, and opioids in the Great Plains; cellphone-based data collection with youth experiencing homelessness in the Midwest; and community-based substance use prevention programming with rural Alaska Native and Indigenous populations in the United States and Canada. These projects were successful in recruiting and retaining participants through carefully planned engagement strategies, focused on community-specific needs and partnership with local advisory groups. The LNC provides consultation on these various research approaches. To learn more, contact our LNC Coordinator Nova Gocchi Carrasco.