J. Aaron Johnson, PhD is Director of the Institute of Public and Preventive Health and Professor of Psychology at Augusta University. He received his doctorate from the University of Georgia. For two decades, his research has focused on the adoption and implementation of evidence-based practices, primarily in substance use prevention and SUD treatment. His work has been widely published in journals across many disciplines including public health, nursing, medicine, addiction, psychology, and sociology.
Areas of Expertise (4)
Treatment of Substance Use Disorders
Education/Teaching Pedagogy Poster Award – International Society of Psychiatric Nurses Annual Conference
Frank Bradway Rogers Information Advancement Award – Medical Library Association
Invited Plenary – Carolina Undergraduate Social Science Symposium
Fellow – 13th Annual OBSSR/NHLBI Summer Institute on Design and Conduct of Randomized Clinical Trials
Best Poster – Georgia Association of Family Physicians Research Poster
University of Georgia: PhD, Sociology 2000
University of Georgia: MA, Sociology 1995
Presbyterian College: BS, Sociology and Political Science 1993
Media Appearances (7)
What’s happening at Augusta University? Sept. 19-25
After nearly two decades of rising overdose deaths, the opioid crisis was finally declared a public health emergency in 2017. In the last decade, Dr. Aaron Johnson, director of the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Augusta University, has been working with physicians and community-based organizations in Georgia to implement programs to help those who may be addicted to opioids. “I tell a lot of people that Georgia has really been lucky. If you look at overdose rates and other issues around the country, given our size, I feel we’ve been fortunate,” said Johnson.
Georgia battles opioid crisis with community programs, education
Dr. Aaron Johnson, director of the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Augusta University, said during the last three decades, we’ve seen three phases of the epidemic. “Initial issues were prescription opioids,” said Johnson. “A lot of state and federal policy changes, like prescription drug monitoring programs, made prescription opioids more difficult to obtain. So the epidemic sort of shifted from prescription opioids to heroin. We started to get a handle on it a bit and then we started to see the fentanyl epidemic. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times more potent than morphine.”
Healthy Georgia report gives snapshot of state compared to rest of US
Dr. Aaron Johnson, director of IPPH, said one surprise in the study was finding that the obesity level is still on the rise — not only in Georgia, but also throughout the U.S. “As much time, effort and expense that we put into addressing the obesity epidemic over the last 20-plus years, it is still steadily going up,” Johnson said.
Georgia battles opioid crisis with community programs, education
Opioid overdose-related deaths in the United States began to rise in the late 1990s after decades of mostly heroin-related overdoses in primarily urban areas. Much of the increases in opioid-related death in the early 2000s can be attributed to the rise of prescription opioids driven by aggressive marketing campaigns of pharmaceutical companies who convinced the Food and Drug Administration, providers and patients that these new opioid pain relievers were non-addictive. After nearly two decades of rising overdose deaths, the opioid crisis was finally declared a public health emergency in 2017. Dr. Aaron Johnson, director of the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Augusta University, said during the last three decades, we’ve seen three phases of the epidemic.
Fentanyl deaths outnumber traffic deaths in Richmond and Aiken Counties
There is an alarming number of people dying from a specific type of opioid. These types of deaths even outnumber traffic fatalities. “You never know whether this pill here is going to be your last one,” said Mark Bowen, Richmond County Coroner. It’s the unexpected drug killing people now. Opioid death by fentanyl. “Fentanyl related overdose deaths have become increasingly prominent,” said Aaron Johnson, Augusta University’s Director of Institute of Public and Preventive Health. “So, the most recent numbers I saw indicated that about 75-80 percent of overdose deaths are now fentanyl related. Five years ago that would have been 15-20 percent.”
Here’s how Georgians’ health stacks up — and it’s not all bad news
Georgians’ high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease levels are all higher than the national average, putting them among the most alarming statistics in a new report from Augusta University researchers. And in health insurance coverage, Georgia ranked 49th in the U.S. The study – “Healthy Georgia: Our State of Public Health” from the AU Institute of Public and Preventive Health – found high cholesterol among Georgians is comparable to the national rate but lower than the region.
Augusta University selects leadership team for its new School of Public Health
The Augusta Press
Augusta University has announced its initial leadership appointments for the new School of Public Health. The university first announced it would be launching the new school in spring of last year. In April of this year, after a months-long nationwide search, the school selected its first dean, Dr. Teresa Waters, transferring from her role as chair of the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky. The new school entails uniting several graduate programs already offered at AU, such as in data science, biostatistics and epidemiology.
Using Actigraphy as a measure of cortical arousals in Cardiopulmonary Sleep StudiesSleep Medicine
2022 Results: A repeated measures ANOVA will be used in order to determine the differences between AHI for participants between conditions and a correlation between cortical arousals (EEG) and movement (actigraphy) after obstructive hypopnoeic episodes will be calculated. Conclusions: This study assesses the risk of underdiagnosing OSA in ambulatory cardiovascular studies that are already used within practice.
Study protocol: The maternal health multilevel intervention for racial equity (maternal health MIRACLE) projectContemporary Clinical Trials
2022 Purpose To test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a multilevel intervention for population-level African American (AA) severe maternal morbidity and mortality. Background Severe maternal morbidity and mortality in the U.S. disproportionately affect AA women. Inequities occur at many levels, including community, provider, and health system levels. Design
Racial and Ethnic Inequities in Financial Hardship Among CVD Patients in the USA During the Pre-and Post-Affordable Care Act EraJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
2022 The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has substantially expanded access to health insurance coverage, resulting in a reduction in financial hardship, defined as ability to pay medical bills, among cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients in the post-ACA era. However, it is not known whether implementation of the ACA improved the racial and ethnic inequity in financial hardship among CVD patients. As such, using data from the 2011 to 2018 waves of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), this paper aims to assess the odds of facing financial hardship among non-Hispanic-White,-Black,-Asian, and Hispanic CVD patients, before and after the implementation of the ACA.
Role of perceived social support in COVID-19 vaccine uptake among U.S. adultsScienceDirect
Biplab Kumar Datta, Jennifer Jaremski, Benjamin Ansa, Lorraine Odhiambo, K.M. Monirul Islam, J Aaron Johnson
Background Vaccine uptake concerns in the Unites States were at the forefront of public health discussions during the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of 2022, approximately 80% of the U.S. population was vaccinated against the virus. This study examined the relationship between perceived social support and COVID-19 vaccine uptake among U.S. adults. Methods Using nationally representative cross-sectional data on 21,107 adults from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey, we assessed the COVID-19 vaccination rates across individuals with strong, some, and weak levels of social support. Multivariable logistic regression models were estimated to obtain the odds of being vaccinated in adults with different levels of perceived social support for the full sample and sub-samples of age groups. Results We found that compared to adults with perceived strong social support, adults with weak social support were 21.1% less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Apart from the age 18-24 years group, the lower likelihood of being vaccinated for adults with weak social support was evident in age 24-49 years (AOR=0.66, 95% CI: 0.52-0.85), age 50-64 years (AOR=0.67, 95% CI: 0.50-0.90), and age 65+ years (AOR=0.56, 95% CI: 0.41-0.75) groups. Conclusions These findings are consistent with a broader literature indicating that social support increases the likelihood of healthy behaviors and decreases risky behaviors. Interventions designed to improve the perception of social support, particularly among those at high risk of mortality from COVID-19 may be a promising tactic for increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake.