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Principal Investigators: Dr. Carlin Rafie, Virginia Tech Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, and Extension Specialist/Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Dr. Emily Zimmerman, VCU Department of Family Medicine and Population Health and Senior Researcher/Director of Community Engaged Research and Qualitative Research at the VCU Center on Society and Health

Community Partners: Martinsville Opioid Task Force, Piedmont Community Services, Sovah Health, and the West Piedmont Department of Health

Title: Participatory Action Planning to Address the Opioid Epidemic in a Rural Virginia Community

Martinsville, VA is a rural area with one of the highest opioid prescription rates in the United States. Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University’s two-year project will bring together community partners and stakeholders in Martinsville to address the local opioid crisis. Due to the complexity of factors involved in the opioid crisis, a multisector response is needed for effective intervention with collaboration among a broad array of stakeholders to identify strategies, and plan and implement changes.

The project will be led by a community-based participatory research team, Engaging Martinsville (EM), in collaboration with the Martinsville Opioid Task Force. Researchers will use the Stakeholder Engagement in question Development (SEED) Method, a multilevel stakeholder model, to build conceptual models that explore potential causal factors leading to health outcomes, and to collaboratively develop and prioritize research questions, interventions, and/or policy approaches.

The researchers will then use these results to create multisector action plans to address the opioid epidemic in Martinsville and to share the results nationally to assist other communities struggling to develop effective means of reducing the impact of opioid abuse and drug overdoses.

The project aims to:

  1. Develop stakeholder conceptual models related to opioid abuse
  2. Generate stakeholder priorities for addressing the opioid epidemic in Martinsville, including strategies, policies, and research questions
  3. Facilitate development of action plans and support next steps based on action priorities
  4. Disseminate findings locally, regionally, and nationally

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