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Overcoming Stigma and Improving Outcomes for Substance Use Disorders Through Education, Engagement, and Empowerment

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R43DA055182-01
Agency Tracking Number: R43DA055182
Amount: $220,098.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: NIDA
Solicitation Number: DA21-016
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-09-30
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-09-29
Small Business Information
Needham, MA 02494-3146
United States
DUNS: 621513451
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (781) 247-1737
Business Contact
Phone: (781) 247-1737
Research Institution

The United States is amid an opioid epidemic. The overall annual cost to society is more than $1 trillion. The
COVID-19 pandemic appears to have accelerated the problem, with more than 81,000 individuals dying from
overdose in the year ending May 2020. Astonishingly, while more than 2 million individuals have opioid use
disorder (OUD), fewer than 35% of these adults received treatment in 2019. Stigma is one major reason for
this treatment gap. For individuals with OUD, internalized negative beliefs may limit their engagement with
healthcare systems. Furthermore, stigma among clinicians may limit implementation of lifesaving treatment.
For all the tactics tried to deal with the opioid epidemic, one greatly underused element is contemporary
approaches to teaching and learning. Although COVID-19 massively disrupted educational systems, the
pandemic has highlighted the importance of and opportunity for innovation through technology.C4 Innovations (C4) and partners at Yale University (Yale) and the West Haven VA Medical Center
(WHVA) propose to develop and test OASIS (Overcoming and Addressing Stigma in Substance Use
Disorders). OASIS is a web-based educational platform for primary care clinicians and individuals with OUD.
We believe that OASIS will decrease barriers to care and enhance OUD treatment outcomes. Our team
includes experts in education, the neuroscience and treatment of OUD, the effect and management of stigma,
and product development and testing. The platform will help patients and clinicians to engage with a diverse
set of high-quality educational materials according to their personal needs, including synchronous and
asynchronous opportunities to interact with experts and peers. We designed the platform to assist individuals
in the pre-contemplative or contemplative stages of addiction, targeting the stigma that limits engagement with
care, and helping initiate evidence-based treatment. Two specific aims guide our Phase I pilot study:
AIM 1: Develop a prototype of OASIS for patients with OUD and primary care clinicians; conduct usability testing.
AIM 2: Pilot OASIS with a small sample of individuals with untreated OUD and their clinicians to determine
feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary product effectiveness for a Phase II effectiveness trial.The C4–Yale–WHVA team will test OASIS with patients (N = 30) and clinicians (N = 5) using validated
measures and qualitative interviews. The team will assess usability, satisfaction, knowledge, empowerment,
and stigma. A future Phase II project would include a controlled trial of the final product demonstrating its
efficacy for empowering patients to engage in dialogues with their primary care clinicians and initiate OUD
treatment, with the ability to expand the tool for future products addressing a broader array of substances.Our team is confident that healthcare systems will be interested in purchasing a tool for patients and
clinicians that reduces stigma, improves outcomes, and reduces high costs associated with untreated OUD.PROJECT NARRATIVE
Opioid use disorder (OUD) affects more than 2 million Americans, resulting in more than 80,000 overdose
deaths last year and an estimated annual societal cost of $1 trillion. Despite these significant harms, fewer
than 35% of affected individuals receive treatment. The OASIS platform will engage both patients and their
primary care clinicians with a set of innovative educational resources specifically designed to counter the
insidious effects of stigma and to empower individuals on both sides of the clinical encounter to initiate
evidence-based treatment. We believe OASIS has the potential to improve outcomes for patients with an OUD
and produce significant cost savings across the healthcare system.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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