Background: Substance abuse in Northeast Texas is pervasive across the 23 rural counties of Public Health Region (PHR) 4. The region suffers from higher rates of alcohol use and overall prescription drug use than other regions of the state. PHR 4 reports an opioid use rate of 20 percent, higher than the state rate of 17 percent. Research on substance use disorder (SUD) in the region is nonexistent, and few data are available regarding evidence-based interventions to treat SUD.
Proposed Solution to the Problem: The project team will bring all relevant community partners together and build their capacity to effectively collaborate in pursuing comparative effectiveness research (CER), facilitate the adoption of evidence-based interventions, obtain relevant data, and eventually improve life circumstances for SUD victims in rural communities of Northeast Texas.
Objectives: The team’s objective is to build relationships and stakeholder capacity to engage collaboratively in and consume the results of CER in Texas PHR 4. Specifically, the team aims to:
- Create a governing structure comprising academics, clinicians, SUD victims, their families, and community-based organizations (CBOs) to establish and maintain a research infrastructure.
- Develop curricula and train community stakeholders in basic research and effective collaboration.
- Identify and prioritize a research agenda related to SUD and future collaborative CER projects.
- Develop sustainable infrastructure to facilitate ongoing interaction to encourage participants to share beliefs, experience, culture, and expertise.
Activities: The team will create a Community–Academic Partnership for Substance Abuse in East Texas (CAPSA-ET) to establish sustainable infrastructure that will enable stakeholders to identify a research agenda for SUD and jointly design, conduct, interpret, and disseminate stakeholder-engaged CER that can be meaningfully translated into community initiatives and interventions. Stakeholders will be engaged in a series of planned activities and roles that include serving on the steering committee; participating in workshops, research training, focus group discussions, stakeholders’ socials, and community forums; and engaging with the online platform.
Stakeholder Engagement Plan: Multiple stakeholders representing five stakeholder groups (people with lived experiences with SUD, families/caregivers, providers, researchers, and CBOs and other service providers interfacing with SUD) will be involved in this project. The team will follow the community-based participatory research (CBPR) model in its engagement plan, observing principles of common understanding, trust, shared power, and mutual learning to build community organizations’ capacities and promote successful engagement.
Projected Outcomes: This award will support the creation of sustainable infrastructure enabling stakeholders to network, capture relevant data, and spawn CER research on SUDs. The project will result in knowledgeable and skilled community partners, a CER agenda based on a shared decision making process, and sustainable relationships between community stakeholders.
Project Collaborators: This is a collaborative project involving the lead organization, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, School of Community and Rural Health (SCRH), and the East Texas Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (ETCADA). The team will also work closely with other community partner agencies including Cenikor Foundation, Partners in Prevention, county sheriff’s departments, United Way, the Smith County Behavioral Health Leadership Team (BHLT), Next Step Community Solutions, and several other stakeholders and community members who are interested in addressing SUDs in East Texas.