COVID-19 and Cannabis Use in Young Adults

SONHS faculty awarded Rapid Response Grant for epidemiological study of COVID-19’s health impact on young adult substance users.
COVID-19 and Cannabis Use in Young Adults

Epidemiologist Denise Vidot, PhD, assistant professor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, has received a University of Miami COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research for the young adult adaptation of her ongoing international COVID-19 Cannabis Health Study among adults.

Vidot is leading the multi-state preliminary study, to be completed this August, in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of experts from SONHS, the UM Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences, the University of Texas School of Public Health’s Center for Pediatric Population Health, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and SUNY Downstate Medical Center, one of New York’s COVID-19-designated hospitals.

“Preliminary evidence from our COVID-19 Cannabis Health Study of 1,415 cannabis users suggests an alarming prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms associated with increased alcohol and non-medical cannabis use since the start of the pandemic, particularly among young adults” explains Vidot. “Therefore, we are taking a more systematic approach to assess 15-24 year olds to provide rapid evidence about a seemingly unsuspected vulnerable population.”

The study will leverage diverse expertise to collect epidemiologic data on the patterns of mental and physical health, substance use (frequency and dose), and potential disease transmission behaviors among young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results will provide preliminary evidence for public health professionals to develop and implement interventions during this and future global health emergencies.

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that population-based data is vital to make informed decisions,” says Vidot. “Because my team and I understand that the plural of anecdote is not data, we are combining our skills to help provide that data.”

Karina Gattamorta, PhD, SONHS associate professor of research, is assisting in the development of study measures. Vidot is also collaborating with SONHS Professor Victoria Behar-Zusman, PhD, and UM Graduate School Dean Guillermo “Willy” Prado, in conjunction with the Center for Latino Research Opportunities, to adapt the COVID-19 Household Environment Survey to young adults.

The aim of the Rapid Response Grant program is to support promising research with the potential to accelerate knowledge of the SARS-Cov-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and its impact on society. All critical research at UM is being done remotely to the extent possible, and otherwise is being conducted following social distancing, PPE, and hygiene/disinfection guidelines.

Participate in the COVID-19 Cannabis Health Study at