Zachary Adams

IU researcher focused on helping youth and adults struggling with behavioral health concerns following trauma

Youth and adults exposed to trauma experience increased risk for an array of behavioral health concerns, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and problematic substance use — including opioid misuse.

Effective interventions exist for each of these concerns, but many patients never receive care due to several factors like limited awareness, inconsistent follow-up, gaps in the behavioral health workforce and difficulties coordinating across service systems.

Zachary Adams, assistant professor of clinical psychology at the IU School of Medicine, is working to address this issue by providing solutions that can help healthcare workers identify patients who are struggling with behavioral health concerns in the weeks following traumatic injuries and connect them to appropriate care.

Adams’s research, part of IU’s Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge, focuses on using the Telehealth Resilience and Recovery Program (TRRP), a multi-step, technology-facilitated, access-to-care intervention model. In the telehealth resilience and recovery program, patients are invited to receive brief education about post-trauma emotional recovery, daily text message monitoring of symptoms, monthly web- or phone-based assessments and referrals to in-person or telehealth treatment for those patients who are identified as being in need of services.

Adams’s team in the IU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry has partnered with Telehealth Resilience and Recovery Program developers at the Medical University of South Carolina, as well as local Indiana University and community colleagues, to expand upon the original program model to address opioid and other substance use.

This has involved the creation of new multimedia educational content, screening instruments, and assessment strategies around opioid and other substance use and related factors like pain and sleep. To guide their work, Adams’s team has interviewed recently discharged adolescent and young adult trauma patients and healthcare professionals who work directly with trauma patients. Additionally, they have developed a new secure, web-based, mobile-friendly app that will support Telehealth Resilience and Recovery Program operations and research data collection.

In the next phase of his project, Adams and his team will begin collecting data on the feasibility, acceptability and usefulness of this expanded model in Indiana.