Cover: Traditions and Connections for Urban Native Americans (TACUNA)

Traditions and Connections for Urban Native Americans (TACUNA)

Utilizing Community-Based Input to Develop an Opioid Prevention Intervention for Urban American Indian/Alaska Native Emerging Adults

Published in: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 139 (August 2022). doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2022.108764

Posted on Jun 21, 2023

by Daniel Dickerson, Elizabeth J. D'Amico, Alina I. Palimaru, Ryan Andrew Brown, David P. Kennedy, Carrie L. Johnson, Kurt Schweigman


Although approximately 70% of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people reside in urban areas, very few opioid prevention interventions exist for urban AI/AN emerging adults. The study team conducted this study to develop Traditions and Connections for Urban Native Americans (TACUNA), a new opioid prevention intervention for urban AI/AN emerging adults ages 18–25. TACUNA comprises three 2-hour virtual workshops.


We conducted thirteen focus groups in three urban communities in northern, central, and southern California (six with urban AI/AN emerging adults ages 18–25 [n=32], four with parents [n=26], and three with providers [n=33]) to identify relevant intervention domains. We then incorporated the results of a rapid analysis of the focus groups to develop intervention workshops followed by a pilot test (n=15) to further refine the intervention and assess feasibility.


Four major domains emerged from focus groups: 1) historical trauma/cultural identity, 2) AI/AN traditional practices, 3) social networks, and 4) substance use. We incorporated all feedback relating to each theme to enhance content of the TACUNA intervention. Pilot test participants felt that TACUNA content was interesting, addressed their issues and concerns as urban AI/AN emerging adults, and believed that the program could help them to establish cultural and social connections to live healthier lives.


Research activities demonstrate how a community-informed and culturally grounded opioid prevention intervention can be developed for urban AI/AN emerging adults. Addressing issues and challenges with culturally and developmentally relevant intervention content can help to build resilience and hopefully decrease opioid use among this underserved population.

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