The Institute for Behavioral Health Approved for PCORI Engagement Award on Mothers Using Opioids

October 01, 2018

Joanne Nicholson, professor of the practice in the Institute for Behavioral Health of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, has been approved for $250,000 of funding over two years through the Eugene Washington Engagement Awards program, an initiative of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The funds will support “Creating a Community with Mothers with Mental Illness Using Opioids.”

This work will bring together mothers with researchers who are committed to providing solutions to opioid misuse and addiction, and addressing the negative impact on mothers, children and families. The project builds on Nicholson’s partnership with patient advocates, led by Shannon Hennig of the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative (MMHRC).

This award will fund collaboration between mothers and researchers to create resources, engage mothers in research and inform researchers about relevant research questions and procedures for addressing them. These activities will include both strategic social media approaches as well as in-person community engagement to promote better understanding of maternal opioid use among stakeholders. According to Nicholson, “The well-being of women, children and families in the U.S. is undermined by opioid misuse and addiction. Our ultimate goal is to provide solutions to this increasingly devastating issue in the U.S. today, and to engage mothers themselves, together with researchers in this process.” 

According to Jean Slutsky, PCORI’s chief engagement and dissemination officer, “This project was selected for Engagement Award funding because it will build a community equipped to participate as partners in comparative clinical effectiveness research and develop partnerships and infrastructure to disseminate PCORI-funded research results. We look forward to working with the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative throughout the course of their two-year project.”

The Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative project and the other projects approved for funding by the PCORI Engagement Award Program were selected through a highly competitive review process in which applications were assessed for their ability to meet PCORI’s engagement goals and objectives, as well as program criteria. 

The Institute for Behavioral Health (IBH) is also home to the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative. IBH Director Constance Horgan says, "The PCORI engagement award will promote the engagement of mothers with researchers and is an exciting and important complement to the work of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative. We look forward to creating the infrastructure for patient-informed work at the IBH."

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better informed health and health care decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.