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This page gives you important information about the research study of adolescent behavior, which is being conducted at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. 


Why is this study being conducted?

  • • We are conducting a research study of how behavior changes during adolescence and how those changes may be affected by having had or not had a father with a drug or alcohol problem. Children who have had fathers with drug or alcohol problems are at increased risk for drug or alcohol problems themselves as they grow older, and we are trying to identify both risk and protective factors in children and adolescents.
  • The researchers hope to learn how having had or not had a father with drug or alcohol problem (1) affects behavior in childhood ; (2) affects behavioral changes occurring in adolescence; and (3) how these behaviors relate to risks for drug and alcohol problems. We believe this study will help us learn about risk and protective factors for drug and alcohol problems.

How can you contact study staff?


What are the study procedures?

  • This study involves assessment of different moods and behaviors, health history, and measures of decision making.
  • Mood and behaviors are measured by completing questionnaires and participating in conversations with our clinical staff. Both the child and a parent/guardian are asked these questions about the child. The parent is also asked questions about problems in other family members, including drug and alcohol problems.
  • A physical exam, medical history, and alcohol, drug, and pregnancy test will be conducted by the study nurse or doctor.
  • Decision making (e.g. reaction time, attention, & memory) is measured by computer tests which will be administered to the child and parent. The tests take about 15 minutes each and are powerful tools of an individual's decision making capacity and style. The parent will complete these measures once; the child will complete them at each study visit beginning at the second visit.
  • Brain response to shapes and sounds is measured using a cap with sensors placed on the child’s head.

How long will study participation take?

  • This is a 5 year study. Study visits occur once every 6 months.
  • The first appointment will last about 4 hours and each follow-up visit will last about 5-8 hours.

Who is eligible to take part in the study?

  • Healthy children (ages 10-12) are asked to participate.
  • Two groups of children may be eligible for this study:
    • (1) Children whose father has had drug or alcohol problems, and
    • (2) children with no drug or alcohol problems in their family. A parent or legal guardian is also asked to take part.

What are factors that can disqualify you from this study?

  • If the child has been diagnosed or treated for a significant medical or psychiatric problem that might impair their performance on some of our measures of decision making (e.g. seizures or head trauma).
  • If the parent/legal guardian cannot give permission for the child to participate in the research study.

How is study eligibility determined?

  • The parent/legal guardian and the child will come to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) for an initial visit.
  • The eligibility assessment includes interviews with our clinical staff with the parent and child about the child’s health and history of moods and behaviors, and interviews with the parent about family history, including drug or alcohol problems in the family.

The informed consent process.

  • Before any procedures are performed, the staff will explain the study procedures, benefits, risks, and confidentiality to the family and the teen. To assist with informing the family of what to expect we will review a "consent form" which outlines all the important aspects of the study. If both the family and the teen gives consent to take part, we will conduct the eligibility assessment.
  • The consent to take part in the study is an ongoing process. We will continue to make sure that this study is practical for your family throughout the study.

Your decision to take part:

  • Taking part in this study is always voluntary. If at any time you wish to discontinue your participation that is your choice. Discontinuing your participation in the study will not impact any other services you receive from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

What are the benefits of taking part in the study?

  • Study participants with evidence of problematic substance use or psychological distress will receive referrals to treatment programs .
  • Although participants may not receive any personal benefits from being in this study, we hope the information learned from this study will benefit other people in the future.

What compensation is given for taking part in the study?

  • The parents and child are each compensated $75 for completing the initial visit. If they qualify and continue in the study, the parent and child are each compensated $120 for completing the second study visit. After that, the child is compensated $120 and the parent is compensated $75 for each visit that they complete.

What are the risks of taking part in the study?

  • The risk of harm or discomfort that may happen as a result of taking part in this research study is expected to be slightly more than daily life, or from routine physical or psychological examinations or tests. There are risks to taking part in this research study. One risk is associated with the standard procedures used to record the brain's responses to images. There is some risk of irritation or discomfort associated with preparing the scalp for the procedure. The irritation should be minimal. Also, some of the tests require rapid responses and they might induce some slight stress.
  • A risk in taking part in this research study is providing information that you and your parent/guardian consider confidential or private. If you decide to take part in this research study, you will be required to give us information about your health history, your life experiences that may affect your health, and your experience with drugs and alcohol. We have adopted a range of procedures to protect your privacy and confidentiality (including the way your data is recorded and secured and your information is protected by a Certificate of Confidentially issued by U.S.A. Department of Health and Human Services). There are some situations when we would have to release your information to others. These include if you are in immediate need of medical attention, if you indicate that you are going to harm yourself or others, if you have experienced abuse or neglect.

How is my privacy protected?

  • This information that we learn about your family is treated as private and confidential.
    We will not share the information given unless someone needs immediate medical attention,
    someone indicates that they are going to harm themselves or others, if someone has experienced abuse or neglect.
  • Your information will be filed by a coded number rather than by your name or other public health identifiers.
  • Your information is stored in locked or encrypted secure format.
  • We have taken extra steps in order to protect your privacy.  
    We have obtained a Certificate of Confidentiality from the National Institute on Mental Health.  
    This Certificate protects the research team from being forced to tell people that are not connected with this study
    about your participation, even under a subpoena.
  • If the results of this study are reported in medical journals or at meetings, the families that participate in our research study will not be identified.
  • We do not use this page to collect or store any information.  All information is kept at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Where is this study being conducted?

  • We are located in the University Plaza Building of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
  • Our physical Address is 7526 Louis Pasteur Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229

Who funds this research?

  • • National Institutes on Drug Abuse funds this research as part of its mission to "lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction".

Conflict of Interest.

  • None of the research team has any financial relationships that would influence the way that the study is conducted.

How can you contact study staff?


What are Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders?

Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders are patterns of alcohol and drug use that impair a person’s life with family, friends, or at school or work.
These problems may be caused by use of alcohol, legal drugs (like prescription pain medications, anti-anxiety or sleep medications), illegal drugs (“street drugs” like marijuana, cocaine or heroin), or some combination.

Symptoms of problematic Alcohol and Drug use include:

  • Poor performance or absences at school or work because of being drunk, high or hung-over
  • Losing a job because of alcohol or drug use
  • Being irresponsible as a spouse or parent because of substance use
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or using drugs, or spending a lot of time getting drugs or alcohol
  • Driving, operating machinery, or doing other physically dangerous activities when drunk or high
  • Legal problems because of drug or alcohol use (DWIs or DUIs, arrests for possession or selling drugs, drunk and disorderly)
  • Arguments or other personal problems with friends or family members because of substance use
  • Getting into physical fights when drunk or high
  • Using more of the substance than they planned to (for example, buying enough beer for the weekend but drinking it all on Friday night)
  • Using the substance over a longer period of time than they planned to (for example, planning to go to the bar for an hour and staying there for several hours)
  • Several unsuccessful attempts to stop or cut down their substance use
  • Frequently talk about wanting to stop or cut down on their substance use, or feeling guilty about drinking or using
  • Needing to drink or use more to get an effect than when they first started
  • Having symptoms if they do not drink or use drugs (shakes, sweats, vomiting)
  • Giving up important activities to spend time drinking or using drugs (time with family or friends, hobbies, religious or social groups, or other important activities)
  • Continuing to drink or use drugs even if they have caused health problems

A person with a drug or alcohol use disorder may not have all of these symptoms, but they do have enough symptoms that it causes the individual impairment with family, friends, school, and/or work.


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