Solutions for the rural opioid epidemic

The Challenge 

Nearly half of all Americans will experience a mental health or substance use disorder some time in their life, and most will go to their primary care doctor for care. The federal government’s Academy for Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care is collecting, analyzing, and publicizing information on integrating mental health and substance abuse treatment services into primary care.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the agency overseeing the Academy, asked Westat to support the Academy’s research and outreach efforts.

Our Solutions 

  • We provide administrative and research support to the Academy’s 14-member expert panel, the National Integration Academy Council, which guides the work of the Academy. The council members are experts in integration and work in different fields, including as policymakers, university researchers, and patient advocates.
  • We are supporting AHRQ grantees in 5 states in their effort to make medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD) more widely available in rural primary care settings by
    • Assembling available knowledge and providing technical assistance about MAT models, their implementation and effectiveness in rural settings, and potential barriers
    • Supporting communication and peer-to-peer technical assistance among grantees
    • Sharing information and resources more broadly with others addressing the challenge of implementing MAT for OUD in rural primary care settings
  • We built and now manage the Academy’s web site, which promotes networking, collaboration, and sharing information with the health and behavioral health integration community. The web site has a robust literature collection, including scientific papers, technical reports, and grey literature.
  • We have developed interactive features for the web site, including an Integration Playbook and the Academy Community. The Playbook is a free interactive guide that provides
    • Tips, resources, and real-world examples of how practices are integrating behavioral health care
    • Pitfalls to avoid
    • An interactive self-assessment checklist
    • Access to the Community, an online forum for peer-to-peer networking and sharing
  • The Playbook’s implementation framework is designed to be meaningful at any level of integration development.

The Results 

  • The Academy is continuing its work of providing resources for integration to better help patients.
  • Council members have presented at conferences and published articles that contribute to the field of integration.
  • The Academy has developed several resources:

Our Client 

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)