Improving the use of research evidence to reduce child and youth opioid-related trauma: developing and testing a reflective decision analysis tool

Does using a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) process with varying levels of support improve decision-makers’ use of research evidence as they allocate opioid settlement funds to benefit youth?

The opioid overdose epidemic has emerged as a significant public health crisis with linkages to poorer outcomes for children and youth in affected communities. North Carolina will receive at least a billion dollars from a series of national opioid settlements to be distributed to more than one hundred counties and municipalities over 18 years, and local decision-makers will lead a process to implement opioid remediation strategies. However, there is a lack of guidance for decision-makers on how to prioritize children alongside adults when allocating funds, and how to choose between multiple strategies that promote benefits to children and youth. Frerichs and colleagues will examine decision-making tools and guidance to support decision-makers’ use of research evidence to equitably include children and youth in opioid settlement funding decisions. The team proposes a mixed-methods study that will adapt an evidence-based multi-criteria decision analysis process to aid the use of research in the development of strategies. They will conduct a randomized trial to evaluate three levels of guidance for improving decision-makers’ conceptual use of evidence in their decisions. Findings will contribute to literature on improving research use within local governments to use funds effectively to serve children and youth in local communities. The project will also generate publicly available concrete tools to support local governments and mid-level decision-makers in planning substance-use related investments.

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