Development of an eHealth Harm Reduction Resource to Address Opioid Use Among Youth in Rural Northern California
Date of Graduation
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
School of Nursing and Health Professions
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Alexa Colgrove Curtis, PhD, MPH, FNP-BC, PMHNP
Trinette R Radasa, DNP, ACNS-BC, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC
Problem: Opioid use and misuse is a leading cause of injury and death among adolescents and young adults in the United States, with a three-fold increase in opioid overdoses since 2000 (Carney et al., 2018; Hudgins et al., 2019). Opioid misuse correlates with misuse of other substances, which exponentially increases health risks over time. The most effective treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) among adolescence is through effective prevention interventions that either prevent the development of the OUD or enable timely diagnosis and treatment in order to prevent poor health outcomes.
Context: The use of eHealth technology, which has been successfully used in the management of other chronic diseases, including hypertension and diabetes mellitus, is one proposed intervention to prevent OUD among youth and to connect them with treatment resources (Nuamah et al., 2020). This technology could be particularly useful among youth due to their familiarity with and affinity towards using technology in their everyday lives. Granite Wellness Centers (GWC), a drug and alcohol treatment organization in rural Northern California, received grant funding from The California Youth Opioid Response (YOR California), to design and develop an eHealth resource to address OUD among youth ages 12 years to 24 years in rural Northern California communities (California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions, 2015). This project sought to design and develop an eHealth resource and to conduct a pilot program.
Interventions: A youth focus group and online survey were conducted to gather stakeholder data and input regarding the design for the eHealth drug resource. The stakeholder data informed the design and development of the GWConnect mobile app, to include culturally-informed harm reduction tools, such as unbiased, evidence-based drug information; news alerts; ask-a-provider feature; and local treatment resources. An 80-day pilot program was conducted to assess effectiveness of the app.
Outcome Measures: A pre/post pilot survey was administered to assess change in youth knowledge of drugs, knowledge of local drug treatment resources, and the likelihood that youth would use the app to access information on drugs and local treatment resources. The surveys also assessed whether youth found the app to be effective in delivering the aforementioned content and their level of satisfaction with the app.
Results: Through data analysis, results indicated a 26.47% increase in knowledge about drugs and a 20.32% increase in likelihood youth would use a mobile app to access information on drugs. Interestingly, even though the greatest increase was observed in knowledge of drug treatment resources and how to access them (45.83%), there was only a slight increase in the likelihood youth would use a mobile app to access information on treatment resources (14.09%). Overall, the pilot program participants were satisfied with GWConnect and found it to be effective.
Conclusions: Increased knowledge can empower youth to make informed decisions preventing substance use disorder and/or reducing harm related to risky behaviors Increased knowledge of treatment resources can improve timeliness of treatment initiation and reduce harm associated with untreated substance use disorder. The overarching aim of GWConnect is to reduce the incidence of OUD and overdoses among rural youth in Northern California; therefore, future longitudinal research is needed to assess its effectiveness over a period of time.
Keywords: Opioid use disorder/OUD, prevention, treatment, youth, adolescents, mobile application, mobile app, app, eHealth resource, and eHealth technology.
Lake, Carolyn Perrotti, "Development of an eHealth Harm Reduction Resource to Address Opioid Use Among Youth in Rural Northern California" (2021). Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Projects. 260.