Regional Health Cohort

The Regional Health Cohort (RHC) aims to enhance our long-term understanding of substance use/misuse via a longitudinal study with people who use drugs in the Great Plains. Longitudinal Network Core (LNC) staff recruit and retain RHC participants through proven techniques, including peer referral approaches, community-engaged designs, targeted follow-up check-ins, and local outreach efforts. We re-interview participants every 6–9 months and measures are modified in each wave based on the data needs of RDAR investigators while keeping a core set of survey items intact for continuity. One unique aspect of the RHC, is the periodic use of mobile technology developed by the LNC to collect “responsive” Ecological Momentary Assessment data in real-time from study participants (via the Open Dynamic Interaction Network cellphone software). A brief description of RHC resources can be found below.

RHC Participant Pool: At the time of RHC enrollment, participants are asked if they are interested in other Center-affiliated studies and voluntarily enrolled in a Participant Pool. Over 90% of RHC participants have elected to participate, allowing investigators to recruit for other studies and data collection (e.g., laboratory protocols, fMRI scanning, salivary samples) at a fraction of the cost normally incurred for similar recruitment. To learn more, contact our LNC Team at

RHC Secondary Data: The RHC includes various data collection sources that are available for secondary analysis. A brief description of each is provided below.

Cohort 1 Data Collection (2020). During 2020, the LNC enrolled 120 people (Wave 1) and completed follow-ups with 35 people (Wave 2). Wave 1 included health screenings (OraQuick Hepatitis C [HCV], INSTI HIV, 14-panel drug screening, urinalysis analyte), computer assisted survey on relationships and social networks, drug and alcohol use, health history, overdose, adverse childhood experiences, emotional well-being, and personal experiences with institutional supports. Due to COVID-19, Wave 2 was moved to a paper-and-pencil survey and in-person health screenings were dropped.

Cohort 2 Data Collection (2021-current). Cohort 2 began in June 2021 and continues presently with more than 550 current participants. Participation involves completing a Wave 1 interview and follow-up interviews every 6-9 months. Questions include basic demographics, community and social support, networks (people you confide in and/or use drugs with), drug use (tobacco, alcohol, injection drugs, and non-injection drugs), overdose experiences, knowledge of overdose prevention resources such as naloxone, substance use treatment history, likelihood of future service utilization, experiences related to COVID-19, psychological distress, positive and negative affect, unwanted sexual activity, adverse childhood experiences, mental health, physical health, access to care, health insurance, prior HCV/HIV testing, diagnosis, treatment history, criminal justice involvement, and community views of substance use. Cohort 2, Wave 2 interviews began in May of 2022, and include Wave 1 questions, plus new topics such as accessibility of drugs and substance use patterns. Cohort 2, Wave 3 interviews will begin in early 2023, with more information forthcoming soon. Interviews are available in computer-assisted, interviewer assisted, or paper and pencil formats.

Responsive Ecological Momentary Assessment (rEMA) Data Collection (2022-current). The LNC is currently collecting real-time data using ODIN with a subset of the RHC sample. Data collection includes an intake survey (e.g., basic demographics, social support, social networks, drug use, sexual behaviors, overdose experiences, substance use treatment, positive and negative affect, experiences with COVID-19, mental health, victimization, criminal justice involvement, and stigma), followed by 30 days of daily ecological momentary assessment questions (e.g., substance use, social interaction measures, feelings and stress, social support). At the conclusion of 30 days, participants return to complete an exit survey. The exit survey repeats intake survey items, along with a debriefing questionnaire on participant’s experience using the ODIN app and any suggestions for improvement.

For more information on specific data collection timelines, sample sizes, and measures availability, please contact our LNC Team at