Project Title: Project IntERact: MHealth to Reduce Youth Substance Misuse & Firearm Behaviors

Faculty Sponsor: Bethany Buschmann

Department: U-M Emergency Medicine

Telephone: 734.615.3044


Project Description: 


  • Violent injury is a leading cause of death among youth in the U.S. (85% firearms)
  • Among youth 16-24 years old seeking care at the Emergency Department (ED) and presenting with recent drug use, 31% returned within 2-years for another violent injury, 52% reported involvement in firearm violence, and 54% reported criminal justice involvement (i.e., arrest).
  • This same youth population also reported high rates of high-risk firearm behaviors (HRFB), defined as firearm carriage under the influence of drugs or alcohol, firearm threats, and firearm use against someone else. 

Study Overview

  • Goal: Develop an M-health intervention to decrease substance use, high-risk firearm behaviors (HRFB), and criminal justice involvement (e.g., criminal arrests) among youth.
  • Population: High-risk youth (16-29 y/o) recruited from an urban ED setting, who report past 3-month substance misuse (alcohol or drug), firearm possession, and own a mobile smartphone.
  • Structure: In-ED MI session + 4-5 Remote therapy sessions + smartphone app to support therapy

Three phase project

  • Phase #1: 3-month prospective, daily data study with youth recruited from an urban ED (n=80), using a smartphone app to collect daily information for 30 days on participant firearm carriage, substance use (alcohol and drug), moods, violence/fighting, daily activities, and HRFB.
  • Phase #2: Intervention development and smartphone app development
    • Focus groups will be conducted with 15 youth from Phase #1 and local community members and community ethics organizations
  • Phase #3: Pilot randomized control trial (RCT) (n=70, 35/group) of the developed M-health intervention compared to enhanced usual care (EUC) to assess intervention feasibility, acceptability and fidelity.
    • Secondary outcomes include trends towards decreased substance use, HRFB, and criminal justice involvement
    • Pilot data to inform a large scale RCT of the full intervention

Student Tasks & Responsibilities: The UROP student will be expected to work at the School of Nursing building at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, MI, where the student will work directly with other research staff on Project IntERact. 
Under the direction of the Research Coordinator, the UROP student's primary tasks will be:

  • Become PEERRS and HIPAA certified. This will occur prior to any project tasks. 
  • Conduct patient emergency department chart reviews via Epic, Hurley Medical Center’s electronic patient tracking system. 
  • Learn data entry and perform data entry 1st and 2nd entry for the study. 
  • Assist in the preparation of follow-up interviews for Project IntERact in the fall --including, but not limited to: making phone calls to - participants to schedule the interviews, taking detailed notes, assisting in the interviews with participants (in the community, at the hospital, or home visit --always conducted with another staff member), and collecting all necessary date associated with a follow-up interview.
  • Provide feedback during the development process of the study's mobile app that will be used for aim 2. The student will have the opportunity to review wireframes created as drafts of the mobile app interface and functions and provide feedback to the study team.
  • Organizing and maintaining collected participant research data. Performing medical record abstraction when needed.
  • Conducting community environment assessments in Flint, MI. 
  • Participating in research meetings and carrying out routine correspondence in regards to project activities.
  • Completing all Hurley Medical Center compliance checklist requirements prior to starting work in addition to the U-M new "employee" requirements (e.g., background screening).
  • Completing Hurley Medical Center orientation as part of the new employee checklist. 

Other possible tasks:

  • Recruiting patients in the emergency department at Hurley Medical Center
  • Identifying and recruiting potential study participants; tracking participants and preparing participant mailings, and scheduling and completing follow-up visits at the ED and in the community.

Minimum Student Qualifications: Ability to commute to Hurley Medical Center in Flint, MI as the primary work location. Additionally, the ability to work independently, pay close attention to detail, follow through with tasks, work as part of a team, observe and maintain data confidentiality, and feel comfortable approaching strangers and comfortable in an ED setting is required. Strong computer skills (MS Office, data entry, etc.), technology skills, and basic research knowledge is necessary. Also, need to have a flexible schedule. May be asked to assist in recruiting for study on weekends or evening shifts. Will need blocks of time available during the hours of 2-10pm and 4-12 midnight.