Mumba Awarded NIH Grant to Aid in Reversal of Opioid Crisis

Mercy Mumba - Assistant ProfessorDr. Mercy Mumba, Assistant Professor at the Capstone College of Nursing, grew up in Zambia, where nursing was not a well-respected profession. After moving to the United States, Dr. Mumba earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas at Arlington. Only two years after graduating with her BSN, she entered a BSN to PhD program; and four years later she graduated with a PhD from UT Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation. A passionate researcher, Dr. Mumba has a number of funded grants, most of which concentrate on preventions and treatment of substance abuse disorders and their co-morbid psychiatric mental health conditions.

Dr. Mumba and her team have received notice of an award from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the NIH for their proposal entitled “A Mindfulness and Peer Mentoring Program to Improve Adherence to Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders.” This five-year project, funded through The Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Initiative, is the only one funded from the state of Alabama. This award is one of 375 grant awards across 41 states made by the National Institutes of Health in fiscal year 2019 to apply scientific solutions to reverse the national opioid crisis. Below, we asked Dr. Mumba to share some insight into this project.

Please describe the purpose and goal of this project.

The purpose of this project is to improve adherence to medication-assisted therapies for opioid use disorders, such as buprenorphine and methadone, among others by utilizing a combination of mindfulness-based relapse prevention and peer support specialists.  We are also trying to see if this intervention helps with reducing relapse, cravings, depression, anxiety and stress.

What are the plans and goals of each phase of the project?

In Phase 1, we will be piloting the feasibility and acceptability of this new intervention that we developed to see if it works and to see if people with opioid problems think that this is something they can participate in if it was available. We will also be examining the preliminary efficacy of the intervention in decreasing relapse, cravings, depression, anxiety and stress.

Please elaborate on the mentoring aspect of this study. Why mentoring is important to you?

There is a growing body of evidence showing that using peer mentoring in substance use recovery produces better outcomes. This is because patients have an accountability partner as well as a role model to look up to in their sobriety journey. The road to recovery is often difficult and can be lonely. Therefore, utilizing peer mentoring can improve social engagement, reduce isolation and provide a sense of belonging for individuals recovering from addiction.

What does this grant mean to you and your team?

Our team is excited about the opportunity to increase access to evidence-based treatment modalities for individuals with opioid use disorders. Alabama is one of the hardest hit states when it comes to the opioid crisis and yet, we also have serious problems when it comes to access to care. We believe that our grant is providing a much-needed service and has potential to reduce morbidity and mortality related to opioid misuse.

How do you hope this study will inspire or influence other nurses or researchers in the field?

I think this study challenges all of us to look at individuals with opioid use disorder from a holistic perspective. There are many issues that contribute to addiction and substance abuse; however, when we look at treatment options, they sometimes tend to neglect all the other problems that may have contributed to the addiction in the first place. This is why we believe that addressing co-morbid mental health and other psychiatric disorders in this population is an integral part of promoting sustained recovery.

Dr. Mumba is the principal investigator and program director. Her co-investigators include Drs. Andrea Glenn (Psychology), George Mugoya (Educational Counseling), Rebecca Allen (Psychology), David Albright (Social Work), Lori Davis (Tuscaloosa VAMC), Joshua Richman (Tuscaloosa VAMC) and Ms. Austin Butler (Alabama Community Care).

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R61AT010802. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.