21 Scopus citations


Background: Opioid overdose deaths remain high in the U.S. Despite having effective interventions to prevent overdose deaths, there are numerous barriers that impede their adoption. The primary aim of the HEALing Communities Study (HCS) is to determine the impact of an intervention consisting of community-engaged, data-driven selection, and implementation of an integrated set of evidence-based practices (EBPs) on reducing opioid overdose deaths. Methods: The HCS is a four year multi-site, parallel-group, cluster randomized wait-list controlled trial. Communities (n = 67) in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio are randomized to active intervention (Wave 1), which starts the intervention in Year 1 or the wait-list control (Wave 2), which starts the intervention in Year 3. The HCS will test a conceptually driven framework to assist communities in selecting and adopting EBPs with three components: 1) a community engagement strategy with local coalitions to guide and implement the intervention; 2) a compendium of EBPs coupled with technical assistance; and 3) a series of communication campaigns to increase awareness and demand for EBPs and reduce stigma. An implementation science framework guides the intervention and allows for examination of the multilevel contexts that promote or impede adoption and expansion of EBPs. The primary outcome, number of opioid overdose deaths, will be compared between Wave 1 and Wave 2 communities during Year 2 of the intervention for Wave 1. Numerous secondary outcomes will be examined. Discussion: The HCS is the largest community-based implementation study in the field of addiction with an ambitious goal of significantly reducing fatal opioid overdoses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108335
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health through the NIH HEAL Initiative under award numbers UM1DA049394, UM1DA049406, UM1DA049412, UM1DA049415, UM1DA049417. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or its NIH HEAL Initiative.

Funding Information:
Competing interest disclosures include the following: DMC Serves on Data Safety Monitoring Boards for Janssen Research & Development; the studies have no relation to HCS work. MRL (MA) has research funds paid to their institution from OptumLabs for research on OUD treatment pathways. RS has received medication at no charge from Alkermes in support of a study testing naltrexone for alcohol use disorder. MDS (MA) reviewed grants for Alkermes in 2019. EN is an investigator on a study sponsored and funded by Braeburn-Camurus, served as a consultant without compensation to Alkermes, Braeburn-Camurus, and Pear Therapeutics, and has been an investigator on studies receiving in kind medication from Alkermes and Indivior, and in kind digital therapeutic from Pear Therapeutics. FL receives grant support from the NIDA, SAMHSA and US World Meds, consults for Major League Baseball, serves as an unpaid member of a Scientific Advisory Board for Alkermes, Novartis and US WorldMeds. KK has been compensated for providing consultation and reports for ongoing opioid litigation. SLW serves as a scientific advisor to Opiant and has served as a scientific consultant to Otsuka, Brainsway Therapeutics, Astra Zeneca and Biosciences Summit. All other authors have no conflicts to declare.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Community engagement
  • HEALing Communities Study
  • Helping to End Addiction Long-term
  • Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD)
  • Naloxone
  • Opioid prescribing
  • Opioid use disorder (OUD)
  • Overdose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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