State Snapshot

Boston Medical Center’s research team brings decades of experience treating people with substance use disorder to ending the opioid overdose epidemic across Massachusetts. In collaboration with HEAL communities’ grassroots coalitions, we’re committed to bridging the gaps that prevent people with opioid use disorder from accessing quality care and treatment.

The Massachusetts HEALing Communities Study is an incredible opportunity for Boston Medical Center to participate in the unprecedented NIH HEAL InitiativeSM to stem the national opioid crisis. The progress and findings from this research study will inform evidence-based solutions to reduce opioid overdose deaths.

"We are using an approach founded on evidence-based practices. By engaging communities in a program implementation process that works, we aim to get people into treatment, help them stay in treatment, and ultimately help them live a healthier life. We have good tools in the toolbox and this research study will help determine how our communities can reach as many people as possible with them."

Carly Bridden,
Project Director,
Boston Medical Center

Massachusetts is ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths. 11. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Opioid Summaries by State. Retrieved from here.

Since 2015, there has been a 40% decrease in the number of number of opioids prescribed to Massachusetts residents. 22. Massachusetts Department of Public Health (2020). MA Prescription Monitoring Program County-Level Data Measures (2019 Quarter 4). Retrieved from here.

Hope in HEALing

Our Grant

Guided by shared decision-making and ownership in local communities, Boston Medical Center will work with community stakeholders to bridge gaps in prevention, treatment, and recovery services by testing the implementation of a suite of tailored programs.

Key components of our approach include engaging with communities in a process to:

  1. Identify local needs and existing resources.
  2. Select and implement a range of evidence-based practices to reduce opioid overdose deaths.
  3. Communicate messages to reduce the stigma of opioid use disorder and increase the number of individuals receiving and adhering to medication for opioid use disorder.
  4. Accelerate access to low-threshold initiation of medication for opioid use disorder for individuals at high risk during hospitalization, incarceration, or detoxification.

Each component is based on evidence that informs the strategies to reduce the negative impact of opioid use disorder, initiate and maintain people with opioid use disorder in treatment, and ultimately save lives.

What We Hope to Learn

At Boston Medical Center, we’re committed to learning how best to work with communities to implement evidence-based interventions most effectively in order to reduce opioid overdose deaths. With an awareness that the solutions to reducing opioid overdose deaths are generated by collaborations between researchers and community partners, our aim is to optimize community-based strategies for addressing gaps in the prevention, care, and treatment for people with opioid use disorder.

The ultimate effectiveness and sustainability of the Massachusetts HEALing Communities Study lies in the participating communities. Boston Medical Center is committed to facilitating an ongoing reciprocal relationship with HEAL communities that amplifies the impact of knowledge gained from this research study.

Our Communities in the HEALing Communities Study

Map of Healing Communities in Massachusetts

Wave One

Bourne & Sandwich







Shirley & Townsend

Study Contact

Principal Investigator

Jeffrey H. Samet, MD, MA, MPH

HEALing Communities Study

Chief, Section of General Internal Medicine, Boston Medical Center

Vice Chair for Public Health, Department of Medicine

John Noble, MD Professor in General Internal Medicine and Professor of Community Health Science, Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health

Project Director

Carly Bridden, MA, MPH

HEALing Communities Study
Workers gathered around a pickup truck