The Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine is playing a key role in a state program that provides prevention, treatment and recovery services for Ohioans with opioid and stimulant use disorders.
Nicole Kinzeler, assistant professor in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences and associate director of the Substance Abuse Resources and Disability Issues (SARDI) Program, received a new two-year grant to provide training and collect and evaluate data from providers offering treatment and recovery services throughout the state of Ohio. Kinzeler received $1,450,207 in funding for the first year of the grant.
The funds were provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and distributed by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OHMAS). The goal for the project is to provide services to 18,000 Ohioans over the next two years.
The funding is part of the State Opioid Response project, which provides evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery services to address opioid and stimulant use disorders in Ohio. The project seeks to develop innovative approaches to substance abuse treatment and recovery from community providers throughout the state.
Kinzeler and SARDI have participated in the project since 2018, when they received a two-year grant that focused primarily on opioid disorders.
The first State Opioid Response project targeted individuals 18 years and older with opioid use disorder or a history of overdose, while the new grant was expanded to include stimulant use disorder and adolescents.
SARDI’s role in the project includes data collection training for providers that receive funding through SAMHSA and OHMAS. They include health care providers, emergency department staff, professionals in the criminal justice system, and churches and faith-based organizations.
In the first two years of the project, SARDI conducted 94 training sessions around the state for more than 2,000 providers and conducted over 5,000 technical assistance sessions. Kinzeler expects the number of training sessions and providers will increase during the current project.
Before the pandemic, Kinzeler and her team traveled around the state to conduct data collection training sessions. But because of COVID-19, training is now offered online. SARDI created a resource page and training videos and offers online data collection training every week.
SARDI is also responsible for collecting participants’ data, analyzing it and creating reports for the state and federal governments as well as the providers themselves.
SARDI’s data collection highlights the successes of the programs and identified service gaps. SARDI’s reports have been used by the state to successfully apply for additional federal funding and by the providers for other grant applications, accreditation processes, board reports and marketing.
Kinzeler said it is rewarding to assist the service providers in helping their clients and communities by collecting data and producing high-quality reports for them.
“We’ve developed hundreds of reports to document the positive impact of the project,” Kinzeler said.
Through its analysis, SARDI has been able to demonstrate the positive impact the providers have had. Many who have received treatment have experienced dramatic improvements and reductions in their substance use. Other clients are in recovery and are experiencing positive improvements in their mental health, employment and housing.
Kinzeler is proud to help the community partners demonstrate their success.
“The work that the providers are doing is incredible, and I’m just thankful that we get the opportunity to help them do their work,” she said. “The reward for us is we get to make their lives easier and allow them to collect this data so that SAMHSA continues to give them funding to do that good work.”
SARDI also manages the gift card incentives for clients who complete data collection interviews with providers. For the first two years of the project, SARDI distributed more than 15,000 gift cards, and Kinzeler expects the number will be even greater for the second project.
Kinzeler presented on the overall impact of the project and on how it has helped improve the mental health of women a with opioid use disorder at the American Public Health Association’s virtual conference in 2020.
For the last 30 years, SARDI has provided services to people with disabilities and/or co-occurring substance abuse disorders. The program has a staff of about 20 people and currently manages around 15 grants ranging from program evaluation to implementation projects. The program is fully grant funded.
Since joining Wright State’s SARDI Program, Kinzeler has primarily led grant evaluations for community partners, including state and local governments, churches, the Dayton Police Department and area health providers. She is also the principal investigator on a federally funded project that provides HIV prevention services to African American college students at Wright State and Central State.
Kinzeler said that program evaluation is needed by virtually every grant-funded program, and SARDI has over 30 years of experience providing evaluation support for SAMHSA projects. This expertise makes Kinzeler and SARDI uniquely positioned to work with community partners to evaluate their programs.
For Kinzeler, grant evaluation is one way she can help others “do the work that I’m passionate about, working with people with substance use disorders and other behavioral health needs.”
The team working on the State Opioid Response project is led by Kinzeler and includes Tim Crawford, assistant professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Population and Public Health Sciences; Kathryn Taylor, training coordinator; Kevin Kissell, research associate; Angela Zaragoza, research assistant; and a gift card management and distribution team led by James Hardern, a research assistant.
Kinzeler earned a Ph.D. and master’s degree in behavioral neuroscience from Ohio State and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wittenberg University.
She taught in Wittenberg’s neuroscience program before joining Wright State 10 years ago. In addition to her role at SARDI, she has a joint appointment in the Master of Public Health Program, serving as the director of student capstone experiences and lecturing in a project management class.