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Alicia
Sparks, Ph.D., MPH

Senior Associate, Health & Environment

Dr. Alicia Sparks has more than a decade of experience in alcohol and other substance-use research designs, implementations, and evaluations. She has led and/or managed numerous national, high-profile substance use research projects. She served as the Project Manager and a contributor to the first ever Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. She has worked at the federal, state, and local levels. Along with her expertise in alcohol issues, she has extensive research experience in military health issues, particularly substance use. She has more than two dozen publications.

Since 2016, Sparks has served as a technical contributor on Abt’s Millennium Cohort Family Study contract, and she served as the project manager of the contract from 2016-2017. She is a task lead on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Evidence Based Resource Contract, where she led the development of guides on preventing vaping and preventing marijuana use among youth. Additionally, Sparks is the co-lead of Abt’s cross-cutting opioid initiative, responsible for Abt’s multi-disciplinary and comprehensive approach to opioid misuse prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Sparks has led numerous behavioral health projects at Abt. She was principal investigator of the NYC Well Evaluation and served as the project director and principal writer of the Access to Behavioral Healthcare in Massachusetts: The Basics primer. Prior to Abt, Sparks worked with liquor law enforcement organizations on alcohol prevention programs and policies at the state level and with local law enforcement on activities such as drunk driving campaigns. As a fellow at the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, Sparks monitored youth exposure to alcohol advertisements resulting in a manuscript on compliance with the alcohol industry’s voluntary advertising regulation.

Expertise

  • Substance misuse
  • Alcohol misuse
  • Community prevention
  • Military and military family health
  • Behavioral health

Key Projects

  • Evidence Based Resource Contract (SAMHSA)
  • Alcohol Ad Monitoring (CDC)
  • Millennium Cohort Family Study (Naval Health Research Center)
  • Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health (SAMHSA)
  • New York City Well Evaluation

Publications

  • Sparks, A.C., Hunt, M., McLellan, S., Siraj, F., Robinson, A., Armstrong, K., Manetas, MA., Olsho, L. (2020). NYC Well Evaluation Final Report. Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. https://thrivenyc.cityofnewyork.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/nyc-well-evaluation-final.pdf
  • Corry, N. H., Radakrishnan, S., Williams, C. S., Sparks, A. C., Woodall, K. A., Fairbank, J. A., & Stander, V. A. (2020). Association of military life experiences and health behaviors among military spouses. BMC Public Health.
  • McDonald, D. C., Radakrishnan, S., Sparks, A. C., Corry, N. H., Carballo, C. E., Carlson, K., & Stander, V. A. (2020). High-risk and long-term opioid prescribing to military spouses in the Millennium Cohort Family Study. Military medicine, 185(9-10), e1759-e1769.
  • Corry, N. H., Williams, C. S., Radakrishnan, S., McMaster, H. S., Sparks, A. C., Briggs-King, E., ... & Stander, V. A. (2021). Demographic Variation in Military Life Stress and Perceived Support Among Military Spouses. Military Medicine, 186(Supplement_1), 214-221.
  • Sparks, A. C., Radakrishnan, R., McDonald, D. C., Corry, N. H., Carballo, C. E., Carlson, K., Stander, V. A. Is opioid use by military spouses associated with service member’s long-term or high-risk opioid use? Manuscript under review.
Alicia Sparks, Ph.D., MPH, Senior Associate, Health & Environment