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Principal Investigators: Jeremy Kane and Claire Greene, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health


Refugees are at risk for unhealthy alcohol and other drug (AOD) use, yet few receive treatment. This research will evaluate the effectiveness and implementation of stepped-care AOD services (screening, brief intervention, and referral to evidence-based psychotherapy) for Congolese refugees and host community members in Mantapala, an integrated settlement in northern Zambia.

First the study will: explore the types, correlates, and patterns of AOD use, validate measures for AOD use, and adapt the interventions and research procedures to be locally relevant and acceptable in the study context. Refugee incentive workers will be trained to deliver the intervention to 200 persons reporting unhealthy AOD use. Using a hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial and mixed-methods data collection, the feasibility, cost, barriers and facilitators to implementation of the intervention will be evaluated, as well as its effectiveness in reducing unhealthy AOD use and co-occurring mental health problems 12-months after baseline relative to those receiving treatment-as-usual.

Jeremy Kane and Claire Greene

Co-Principal Investigators

Alcohol and other drugs are responsible for substantial physical, psychological, and social harms, including in humanitarian settings. This research will aid us in identifying which interventions are effective for reducing this burden and how we need to adapt services so they are relevant, acceptable, and feasible in humanitarian contexts

Expected Outcomes

There is an absence of information on how to effectively treat unhealthy alcohol and other drug use in humanitarian settings. Results from this study will be among the first to provide critical evidence regarding whether a stepped-care system including evidence-based intervention components is effective and feasible within humanitarian settings.

Anticipated clinical and public health outcomes include reduced alcohol and other drug use, improved mental health, and reductions in substance-related consequences (e.g., gender-based violence). The study team also anticipate discovering unique considerations for adapting evidence-based interventions tested in non-humanitarian contexts to complex humanitarian settings. Furthermore, this research provides an opportunity to examine the implementation of a public health intervention through an integrated governmental and non-governmental system to both refugees and host community members.

The study outcomes, intervention manuals, screening tools, and implementation plans will be disseminated to researchers, practitioners, and policymakers through our study partners, webinars, publications, and dissemination meetings.

Related Resources

Article, Peer Reviewed Mental Health and Psychosocial Support

Alcohol and other drug use patterns and services in an integrated refugee settlement

Article, Peer Reviewed Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, Refugees and IDPs, Substance Misuse

Testing a Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment Intervention Approach for Study Protocol: Addressing Unhealthy Alcohol and Other Drug Use in Humanitarian Settings

Article, Peer Reviewed Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, Substance Misuse

Progress and future directions for promoting the implementation of substance use services for forcibly displaced populations

Play video

Latest Updates

Study launch covered on TV!

Dec 2021

A Zambia TV station provides coverage of the study launch meeting. WiLDAF led the organisation of the event and were excited about the interest from the media, and in the study location, Mantapala. The story was even picked up nationally.



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