Community-driven strategies for engaging vulnerable groups in low threshold opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment

Type: Poster Presentation
Date: November 2020


Allyson Pinkhover, Ceylon Auguste-Nelson, Sharon Touw, Kristopher Bennett, Kelly Celata, Julie Burns, and Ranjani Paradise. “Community-driven strategies for engaging vulnerable groups in low threshold opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment”, presented at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting 2020 (poster), virtual.


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Finding innovative methods to engage people with opioid use disorder (OUD) in low-threshold access to treatment and other health services is essential for addressing problematic opioid use. In 2018, RIZE Massachusetts Foundation awarded funding to Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (BNHC) in southeastern MA to implement programming to increase engagement and retention in OUD treatment. This presentation will describe the planning, implementation, and impact of two innovative strategies that engage groups at high risk for fatal overdose: those experiencing homelessness and recently incarcerated individuals. Program design was determined using a collaborative planning process, informed by a community needs assessment.

BNHC and partners from local community-based organizations and the city collaborated to establish an integrated street outreach team from across sectors to engage with individuals experiencing homelessness in hotspot areas. Results from the first year demonstrate that the outreach team has engaged with more than 400 individuals at 23 locations.

A BNHC employee was co-located as a reentry coordinator at Plymouth County Correctional Facility. They offered medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and other services to patients upon their release from jail, case management, and information about treatment options. Remote electronic health record access at the jail was used to schedule appointments with BNHC’s Office-Based Addiction Treatment (OBAT) program for the expected day of release. In one year, the reentry coordinator engaged 275 individuals; of these, 230 requested OBAT services and of the 187 released, 82 (44%) kept their MOUD appointment.

On a population level, the BNHC OUD patient panel size increased by 28% (915 to 1175 patients) while the percent of OUD patients who initiated MOUD increased from 33% (303) at baseline to 41% (479) after 12 months.

Preliminary findings suggest that these innovations are promising ways to reduce overdose deaths and engage vulnerable groups in care.

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