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RCS 23-080 – HSR&D Study

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RCS 23-080
HSR&D Research Career Scientist Award
Daniel M. Blonigen PhD MA
Palo Alto, CA
Funding Period: October 2023 - September 2028


Approximately 1 in 4 Veterans has a substance use or mental health disorder. Yet, the majority of these Veterans do not receive treatment for these problems. My VA research program aims is to develop innovations to improve access and engagement in substance use and mental health care for vulnerable populations, test if these innovations are effective, and facilitate their implementation. This work involves investigating the effectiveness and implementation potential of mobile health and peer-based interventions for Veterans who struggle with homelessness and/or cyclical involvement in the criminal justice system. Such research is critical to the VA’s mission, given that justice system involvement and homelessness disproportionately affect Veterans and increase risk for chronic health problems and use of high-cost services. Using a variety of sophisticated methodologies (e.g., hybrid trials, qualitative analysis), and in collaboration with multidisciplinary teams from institutions in and outside VA and operational partners in VA’s Homeless Program Office, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, and Office of Connected Care, my research contributions focus on: (1) improving treatment engagement and outcomes for justice-involved and homeless Veterans. My prior and future research in this area tests the effectiveness and implementation potential of interventions that aim to reduce risk for criminal recidivism and acute care service utilization in this high-need patient population; (2) evaluating virtual care services for Veterans with substance use and mental health disorders. My prior and future research in this area studies the scalability and implementation of mobile applications and video-enabled tablets to increase Veterans’ access to behavioral healthcare; (3) developing, testing, and implementing peer-supported mobile health interventions. To date, my research in this area has focused on developing and testing protocols for peers to support patients’ use of mobile apps for self-management of alcohol use and mental health problems. My future research will seek to advance implementation of this model of care into the continuum of behavioral health services for Veteran primary care patients. I have become a leader in these areas of research, as demonstrated by my peer-reviewed publications, grant funding, invited memberships on study sections for VA and NIH, editorial positions for leading addiction and mental health journals, and letters of support from non-VA colleagues. If I am fortunate enough to receive a Research Career Scientist award from VA HSR&D, I will devote my full-time effort to research, mentoring, and VA service activities as a distinguished leader on improving access and engagement in substance use and mental health care for vulnerable populations.

NIH Reporter Project Information:

None at this time.

DRA: None at this time.
DRE: None at this time.
Keywords: None at this time.
MeSH Terms: None at this time.

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