Telehealth-Clinical Advocacy Project (T-CAP)

The opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions across America. In Illinois, the focus of this application, opioid-related deaths have increased 32% in the past year. As part of a State response, Illinois has launched a police Opioid Diversion Program (ODP), where individuals voluntarily enter the program and ask for help with substance use treatment, without fear of arrest. The proposed Telehealth-Clinical Advocacy Project (T-CAP) intervention focuses on enhancing one Illinois ODP by (1) introducing a telehealth model to link participants to a trained clinician throughout the intervention process and (2) expanding the community treatment services infrastructure (including expanded options for pain management and increased access to medical services that can provide MAT). Volunteer study participants will be randomized to one of two conditions: (1) “treatment as usual” (TAU) comparison group who will meet with a research assistant (RA) to complete surveys at three time points, or (2) T-CAP intervention group who will complete surveys and receive seven telehealth clinical sessions featuring brief intervention services with Motivational Interviewing (MI), “assertive” referrals, and three months of on-going clinical support and advocacy from a clinician. The novelty of this strategy is that it focuses on the need to provide participants with rapidly available professional level clinical services and support as part of the police diversion program, and it expands the service infrastructure to include increased access to MAT and alternative pain management services. The primary study aims are (1) to demonstrate intervention feasibility by measuring study participant receptivity and utilization of the telehealth approach and (2) evaluate the proposed T-CAP measures to assess their performance in gauging the impact telehealth on substance use treatment initiation, short-term treatment retention, and access to other appropriate treatment services for future large-scale research. If the enhancements are feasible, the potential impact of the highly innovative T-CAP intervention will be major. The study’s potential to achieve the larger goal of reducing opioid use and related health problems will have major implications for police diversion policy and practice.