A Day in the Life of a Research Associate at CASAColumbia | Center on Addiction

A Day in the Life of a Research Associate at CASAColumbia

A Day in the Life of a Research Associate at CASAColumbia

An important part of the work being done at CASAColumbia is the research that helps to inform and guide the public, evaluate and improve health care, and analyze and recommend policies on substance use and addiction. But what exactly does that mean and what type of research is being conducted?

We sat down with Alma Hidalgo, M.A., Research Associate to find out a little bit more about the exciting work she does at CASAColumbia and how it impacts the community.

What sort of work do you do as a Research Associate at CASAColumbia?

Right now I’m working on a study that is evaluating families affected by Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, often lasting into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors or be hyperactive. If not treated effectively, it can be a risk factor for substance abuse.

Specifically, my work in this study includes interviewing adolescents diagnosed with ADHD and their caregivers, by adhering to the following steps:

  • First, we receive referrals from several outpatient behavioral health clinics with which we are working on this study, located in various New York City locations (Upper Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, the Bronx) and Long Island
  • Then we call the referrals and conduct screenings to ensure that the family is eligible to participate in the study
  • If the family is eligible, we visit their home and conduct in-person interviews with the adolescent and parents separately. We ask questions relating to ADHD symptoms, behavioral problems and substance abuse, among others
  • From there, we collect all of the information confidentially and input it into our secure database system
  • Lastly, follow-up interviews are conducted via phone or in person

What’s the end-goal of the study?

To develop an evidence-based comprehensive treatment program for children diagnosed with ADHD that can be implemented in schools, hospitals and medical centers, and overall, to help reduce misunderstandings about ADHD treatment. The treatment is comprehensive because it includes behavior therapy, medication support, and academic support. Also, the study aims to provide therapists in the community with tools to better serve teens with ADHD.

What do you enjoy most about the work you’re doing?

I really enjoy getting to know the families affected by ADHD and learning how interested they are in participating in the study. Many families feel desperate about finding a solution to ADHD and they are happy to be a part of this work. I am excited to be a part of the solution.

How do you think this work affects the community?

In the long-term, our work will hopefully provide better treatment for children with ADHD. We are trying to find solutions so that children with ADHD can be successful throughout their lives and have bright futures ahead of them.

What do you think is the most important part of the job you’re doing?

The overall impact of possibly helping families. We might not see the results right now because we are in the beginning stages of a three to four year study, but what this project will do for children with ADHD in the future, I foresee being very impactful.

What have you learned from your work in this community that you think the public may be interested in?

ADHD is a condition that greatly interferes in the lives of not only individuals but also their family. In addition, it doesn’t discriminate based on socioeconomic status or race. It can affect anyone. Therefore, more resources are needed to help treat this disorder more effectively. 



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