Researchers Awarded SBIR Phase 1 Grant

Prevention Strategies was recently awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for the proposal “Development of an Opioid Misuse Prevention Program for Workers with High Risk for Injury.” This project is responsive to the National Institute of Health’s Help End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) initiative, which calls for innovative projects to address the opioid crisis.

The award will allow Prevention Strategies to develop and test a mobile e-learning intervention targeting factors to decrease the risks of opioid misuse among workers in industries with high risks of injury and opioid dispensing. Dr. Stephen Hebard, Director of Research and Innovation at Prevention Strategies, is leading the research team in the development of the intervention which is targeted for workers in high risk industries such as construction, agriculture, transportation, public safety, and healthcare. Pain, injury, and work-related stressors contribute to opioid misuse in these populations.

“It is our goal to empower workers with knowledge that helps them make thoughtful decisions about pain management and the skills required to manage their pain without an opioid prescription,” said Dr. Hebard.

Dr. Hebard and Dr. Gracielee Weaver are attending the National Council for Occupational Safety & Health (NCOSH) annual conference in Baltimore, MD to connect with workers, labor unions, and other stakeholders to better understand the complexities of this issue.

“We’re working alongside high-risk industry workers and their stakeholders to better understand what it’s like to be in pain while feeling the pressure to return to work as soon as possible,” said Dr. Hebard. “That’s what’s exciting... that their voices will ultimately inform this intervention.” 

Aims of the research project are to collaborate with workers, industry stakeholders, and scientific experts to develop a detailed outline of the intervention, build an intervention prototype, and pilot test it with end users (i.e. workers in at risk industries). New insights will inform future prevention science research and interventions to address the ongoing opioid epidemic. The research team intends to use the findings from this project to support a larger evaluation of the intervention’s merit through the SBIR mechanism in 2021.

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