Lessons learned and future directions: A scoping review of American Indian and Alaska Native participants in the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network.J Subst Use Addict Treat. 2023 10; 153:209081.JS
American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations are disproportionately affected by substance use disorders (SUDs) and related health disparities in contrast to other ethnoracial groups in the United States. Over the past 20 years, substantial resources have been allocated to the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network (CTN) to disseminate and implement effective SUD treatments in communities. However, we know little about how these resources have benefitted AI/AN peoples with SUD who arguably experience the greatest burden of SUDs. This review aims to determine lessons learned about AI/AN substance use and treatment outcomes in the CTN and the role of racism and Tribal identity.
We conducted a scoping review informed by the Joanna Briggs framework and PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews checklist and explanation. The study team conducted the search strategy within the CTN Dissemination Library and nine additional databases for articles published between 2000 and 2021. The review included studies if they reported results for AI/AN participants. Two reviewers determined study eligibility.
A systematic search yielded 13 empirical articles and six conceptual articles. Themes from the 13 empirical articles included: (1) Tribal Identity: Race, Culture, and Discrimination; (2) Treatment Engagement: Access and Retention; (3) Comorbid Conditions; (4) HIV/Risky Sexual Behaviors; and (5) Dissemination. The most salient theme was Tribal Identity: Race, Culture, and Discrimination, which was present in all articles that included a primary AI/AN sample (k = 8). Themes assessed but not identified for AI/AN peoples were Harm Reduction, Measurement Equivalence, Pharmacotherapy, and Substance Use Outcomes. The conceptual contributions used AI/AN CTN studies as exemplars of community-based and Tribal participatory research (CBPR/TPR).
CTN studies conducted with AI/AN communities demonstrate culturally congruent methods, including CBPR/TPR strategies; consideration/assessment of cultural identity, racism, and discrimination; and CBPR/TPR informed dissemination plans. Although important efforts are underway to increase AI/AN participation in the CTN, future research would benefit from strategies to increase participation of this population. Such strategies include reporting AI/AN subgroup data; addressing issues of cultural identity and experiences of racism; and adopting an overall effort for research aimed at understanding barriers to treatment access, engagement, utilization, retention, and outcomes for both treatment and research disparities for AI/AN populations.