July 26, 2016

Mental health, drug treatment expert to present at upcoming event

Attend the September Global Health Initiatives Forum to hear a colleague speak about his work that connects different disciplines across different countries and cultures.

A Clinical Associate Professor with appointments both in the School of Nursing and the Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Stephen Strobbe has approached the topic of substance use all over the world, from Europe to South America and Southeast Asia. He will discuss these and other international experiences at the Sept. 27 Forum, which is sponsored by Global REACH and is open to all faculty engaged in or interested in global health work.

“These partnerships have played a big role in my work,” said Strobbe, who holds a PhD in Nursing, and is board-certified both in psychiatric and addictions nursing. “It’s true of every place I’ve been:  you’re invited in as an expert, but I have inevitably learned more from the people, and the places that I’ve visited, than they probably learned from me.”

Dr. Strobbe’s current project seeks to integrate adolescent screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for substance use into the curriculum of schools of nursing, both in the United States and in Brazil, using an interactive, online computer simulation to help faculty, clinicians, and students master change-based interviewing methods.

Dr. Strobbe had just joined the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Nursing (UMSN) in 2012, when he was introduced to visiting professors from the University of São Paulo (USP) School of Nursing at Ribeirão Preto. That led to an invitation to Brazil as a visiting professor, and an ongoing collaboration that has since grown.

The study of substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery lends itself to international collaboration because it truly is a global problem, he said, one that is addressed in unique ways by different societies.

“I’ve been impressed by the emphasis on community health models in Brazil. Nurses and other health care workers go directly from clinics right into people’s homes,” he said. We in the United States can stand to learn a lot from Brazil and other countries.  One of the most important aspects of global health work is that we can, and need to, learn from each other.”

A growing global health concern, substance use was recently added to the World Health Organization’s 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda, with the goal to strengthen prevention and treatment worldwide. Because substance use is so often a compounding factor in other medical issues, successful prevention and treatment could positively impact other health care initiatives as well.

“The inclusion of noncommunicable diseases under the health goal is a historical turning point. Finally these diseases are getting the attention they deserve,” said WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan in a release accompanying the Sustainable Development Agenda announcement.