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Grant Funding Available for Behavioral Interventions for Prevention of Opioid Use Disorder and as an Adjunct to Medication-Assisted Treatment

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November 30, 2017
Robin Boineau, M.D.

Medical Officer, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
View Dr. Boineau’s biographical sketch

Kimberly Johnson, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
View Dr. Johnson’s biographical sketch

More than 90 Americans die every day after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and fentanyl—is a public health epidemic in the U.S. Combatting the opioid crisis requires sustained efforts from researchers, health professionals, and community members to implement evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies and to evaluate the effectiveness of new approaches.

In response to the opioid crisis, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for behavioral intervention research that leverages a $1 billion initiative funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants, also known as the Opioid STR grants. As part of the 21st Century Cures Act, the Opioid STR grants have been distributed to all 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and free-associated states to expand access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery support services; reduce unmet treatment needs; and help to prevent opioid overdose deaths.

The purpose of this NCCIH FOA is to solicit applications to examine the impact of behavioral interventions within the context of states’ plans for use of the Opioid STR grant funds. The NCCIH grant application must include relevant state agency staff as key personnel to ensure adequate input on study design from the SAMHSA-funded projects.

We encourage applications for studies that examine the impact of interventions such as mindfulness meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, or multidisciplinary rehabilitation for primary or secondary prevention for opioid use disorder (OUD) or as an adjunct to medication assisted treatment (MAT) of OUD. Applications that emphasize treatment of the comorbidity of OUD and chronic pain are of particular interest. Potential applicants should review the FOA carefully for examples of research topics of interest to NCCIH.

NCCIH spends about 30% of its budget researching pain and nondrug approaches to pain management. There is currently no evidence showing that opioids are effective for chronic pain and the Center has funded much research to better understand what complementary therapies may work and how they work to manage pain. Prevention and adherence to treatment are also areas of high interest for NCCIH.

Projects must be designed to generate causal inferences on the effects of psychosocial approaches as an adjunct to MAT using FDA-approved medications for treatment of OUD; prevent development of OUD; or prevent OUD relapse to reduce: drug use and/or overdose deaths, length of time on medication, dropout, time to relapse, and at least one other physical or mental health or health-related outcome.

Please note that the NCCIH FOA is a phased award. The first phase (R21) will support the development of preliminary data and feasibility studies. The second phase (R33) is designed to support conduct of the research study after an administrative review with attention to whether milestones have been met. More details about the phased approach are included in the NCCIH FOA.     

The application deadline is January 18, 2018. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Robin Boineau via email at rb@nih.gov or telephone at 301-435-6286.

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This page last modified December 13, 2017