The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC), led by Terry Bunn, Ph.D., was recently awarded a $2.2 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control to comprehensively evaluate the Kentucky Access to Recovery (KATR) program.
KIPRC, along with nonprofit collaborators Fahe, which administers KATR, and the Fletcher Group, will evaluate the long-term effectiveness of the KATR program. Researchers will evaluate the program’s effectiveness at reducing the risk of nonfatal and fatal drug overdoses by increasing an individual’s recovery capital, reducing resumption of illicit substance use and promoting relinkage to recovery support services if illicit substances are resumed by following approximately 300 KATR program participants over a 12-month period.
“The results of this evaluation are essential to understand the importance of recovery support services in building recovery capital to achieve and sustain long-term recovery from substance use disorder among these vulnerable populations,” said Bunn, who is also the principal investigator on the grant.
The KATR program was launched in 2019 and has grown from 15 counties to 37 counties across the Commonwealth due, in part, to its partnership with Kentucky Opioid Response Effort (KORE) funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The program helps individuals recovering from opioid use disorder or stimulant use disorder or who have a history of overdose from opioid use. Recovery support services are free to low-income individuals in eligible service areas who are currently in treatment or early stages of recovery (completed treatment within the past year).
The KATR program does not pay for treatment itself but for resources that support recovery, such as housing and transportation, and is designed to supplement but not replace existing programs. The program provides recovery support assistance when other programs cannot. Individuals in the program need to have attempted to receive funds from existing programs first.
“From preliminary studies of one of the sites, we have learned that the program is bringing positive benefits to participants and to the community. In order for more people and places to have access to recovery support services, it is important that a rigorous evaluation of the program occur so that improvements, replications or expansion can potentially occur,” said KATR Director Joni Tamalonis, D.S.W.
The Fletcher Group will serve as a subawardee, with Ernie Fletcher, M.D., director and chief medical officer, and Robin Thompson, Dr.P.H., director of research and evaluation, acting as co-investigators. The Fletcher Group will assist with development, implementation and analysis of the project.
“We are thrilled to continue partnering with Dr. Bunn and the KIPRC research team on this project. Continued efforts to evaluate recovery support services, and interventions aimed at minimizing barriers to those recovery support services, are crucial to empowering individuals with a substance use disorder on their recovery journeys,” said Fletcher.
A process evaluation of the KATR linkage program also will be conducted to determine whether the KATR program is acceptable and accessible to vulnerable populations with illicit substance use disorder who are linked to recovery support services; identify barriers and facilitators to KATR program implementation; and assess the extent to which the KATR program was implemented as designed.