Framing SUD Services and Treatment for Minority Populations: Conversations with Health Centers and Community Members of Boston

Type: Poster Presentation
Date: September 2023


Onesky Aupont, Kristin King, Nithershini Narayanan, Jordan Kron, Nathaly Perez Rojas, Darian Leta, Jim Hiatt, Ranjani Paradise (Sept 2023). “Framing SUD Services and Treatment for Minority Populations: Conversations with Health Centers and Community Members of Boston. Presented at the 2023 CHA Academic Poster Session (poster). Boston, MA.


Introduction: In Massachusetts, current overdose demographic data show that communities identifying as Black, Latine, and Native are experiencing disproportionate increases in opioid and other drug related overdose rates and continue to be underrepresented in most SUD treatment settings. Additionally, the situation coupled with existing inequities in treatment access, highlight the continued impact of structural racism among these communities and the need for a culturally integrated collaborative response to address the multifaceted aspects of the problem.


Objective : ​​Between Aug – Dec 2022, we conducted a comprehensive community need assessment (CNA) of substance use services and treatment in community health centers (CHC) in Boston to determine the needs and priorities of the communities of focus that should inform future programming and interventions for improvement.


Methods : We used both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to obtain information from 270 individuals in the Boston area. The CNA included a literature review and multiple data collection activities including key stakeholder interviews, focus groups, site visits, community mapping, and patient interviews from five CHCs. Findings from the data sources were analyzed, triangulated and synthesized to then identify and summarize cross-sector themes and recommendations.  


Results : Taken together, the perspectives of community members, CHC patients and staff, field workers, community leaders, and other stakeholders highlight ways in which the interconnections between racism, social needs, trauma, substance use, and some community characteristics drive disparities in SUD and overdose rates.

  • Participants across the board recommended that CHCs conduct more community outreach about the services they offer.
  • Recommendations for improving quality of services at CHCs emphasized workforce development and organizational changes to improve patients’ social and clinical experience when accessing care at CHCs.
  • Expanding services at the CHC, adding staff, and increasing collaboration with other service providers in the community were also recommended.


®  This work is funded by MassGeneral Brigham.

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