Telehealth-Clinical Advocacy Project (T-CAP) is a development and feasibility study to examine the impact of integrating clinical telehealth services within a police opioid diversion program in a midwestern state. As part of a state response to the opioid crisis, law enforcement agencies and community stakeholders launched an Opioid Diversion Program (ODP), where individuals voluntarily enter a police department and ask for help with substance use treatment without fear of arrest. The T-CAP intervention focuses on enhancing one county ODP by (1) introducing a telehealth model that links 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 medication-assisted treatment or MAT). Volunteer study participants will be randomly assigned 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
(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 management services. The primary study aims are to:
(1) to demonstrate intervention feasibility by measuring study participant receptivity and utilization of the telehealth approach
(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.