James R. McKay, PhD


Professor, Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine

Dr. James McKay is a Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Director of the the University of Pennsylvania Center on the Continuum of Care in the Addictions, and the Director of the Philadelphia VA Center of Excellence in Substance Abuse Treatment and Education (CESATE). Dr. McKay received a Ph.D. from Harvard University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in substance abuse treatment outcome research at Brown University. He is the recipient of numerous NIH research grants, including 7 R01s, a P01 Center, and K02 and K24 awards. Dr. McKay is the author or coauthor of over 180 peer reviewed journal articles, 22 book chapters, and two books. He has been a member of two standing NIH grant review committees, and is a fellow of Division 50 of the APA.

Dr. McKay's work has included evaluations of the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and benefitcost of continuing care treatments for alcohol and cocaine use disorders; evaluations of ASAM and other patient placement criteria; development of adaptive interventions for substance use disorders; and the identification of factors that predict relapse following substance abuse treatment. Dr. McKay's current research efforts are focused on the development and evaluation of adaptive approaches to the management of addiction and the use of mobile health technology to augment and extend treatment interventions. One current study, funded by NIAAA, is evaluating the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a smartphone continuing care recovery support app, alone and in combination with counseling, in alcohol dependent patients in publicly funded treatment programs. Dan Polsky is a co-investigator on this grant. A second current study, funded by the DoD, is evaluating an adaptive prevention intervention designed to reduce hazardous alcohol use in veterans on opiate medications for pain. The intervention combines text messaging with telephone counseling, and is adjusted over time on the basis of participant response. Dr. McKay's work at the VA is focused on disseminating evidence-based interventions for substance use disorders in VA facilities across the country, providing training and consultation to those programs, and consulting with VA Central Office on matters related to the improvement of treatment for SUD.

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