Project Summary

The EMPOWER Project is a patient-centered collaborative that is striving to improve health outcomes for pregnant, postpartum, and parenting people with substance use disorder (SUD) and their families through co-leading patient-centered outcomes research/comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/CER). During the project team’s recent PCORI engagement award, patient stakeholders identified and prioritized research topics related to substance use around the timing of pregnancy and postpartum and recognized the need to expand representation of stakeholders beyond Ohio. Although stakeholders from the EMPOWER Project have received introductory PCOR/CER training through online learning labs, they have not received training in data collection, analysis, or dissemination. Receiving training in these areas will be the next step to developing a patient-centered collaborative that has the capacity to meaningfully engage patient stakeholders in all phases of PCOR/CER. Through training in these methods, patient-stakeholders will build their capacity to co-lead PCOR/CER aimed at addressing their prioritized research topics. 

EMPOWER Project stakeholders have identified two aims and strategic steps to expand the EMPOWER Project and build the capacity of patient stakeholders within the EMPOWER Project and three additional maternal-child health focused PCOR groups. 

Aim 1: Expand the EMPOWER Project to develop a multi-state stakeholder-led PCOR/CER collaborative with expertise in improving maternal and pediatric health outcomes for families affected by substance use. 
Step 1: Recruit five additional patient stakeholders from Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia    
Step 2: Recruit 3 additional clinical/community stakeholders who provide care for children with prenatal substance exposure
Step 3: Build an inclusive and sustainable patient-centered PCOR/CER collaborative 

Aim 2: Build the PCOR/CER capacity of patient stakeholders to participate in all phases of research where they are currently underutilized: data collection, data analysis, and dissemination.
Step 1: Develop a patient-centered qualitative research methods training course    
Step 2: Support 17 patient stakeholders in the completion of PCORI’s Research Fundamentals Course and the patient-centered qualitative research methods training course created in step 1
Step 3: Host a stakeholder summit attended by stakeholders from the EMPOWER Project, MMHRC, Next Step Collaborative, and Perinatal Connect to create a platform for co-learning and collaboration

Successful completion of the project aims will result in significant outcomes. Short term, the project team will expand the EMPOWER Project to include stakeholders from Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia to join the existing stakeholders from Ohio. States and patient-stakeholders will develop the capacity to collect, analyze, and disseminate qualitative PCOR/CER. Medium-term, patient-stakeholders will design future PCOR/CER initiatives and present at national meetings, including the PCORI annual meeting. Long-term, patient-stakeholders will conduct PCOR/CER aimed at improving maternal-child health outcomes for families affected by substance use disorder. 

The project aims and activities are well aligned with the capacity needs of patient-stakeholders to conduct PCOR/CER. The overall objectives of the project were developed during patient-engaged stakeholder meetings. Through the upcoming project, patient stakeholders will convene monthly and will utilize a group chat to communicate in-between regularly scheduled meetings and training sessions. 

Project Collaborators: To expand the reach of the project outcomes and to develop collaborations and co-learning opportunities, the following existing maternal-child health collaboratives will be engaged in this project: Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative (MMHRC), Next Step Collaborative, and Perinatal Connect. Stakeholders from each group will join the EMPOWER Project stakeholders to complete training activities. Stakeholders from each collaborative will join together at the end of the project for a two-day stakeholder engagement summit for co-learning, dissemination, and the development of cross-collaborative stakeholder partnerships. 

Project Information

Nichole Nidey, PhD
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Key Dates

24 months


Project Status
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: January 20, 2023