Supporting data-driven decision-making to support substance use service expansion policies and to prevent overdoses


Gracelyn Cruden

Prime Institution: Chestnut Health Systems

Oregon state, which ranks last in the U.S. for substance use service access, passed a novel ballot measure bringing unprecedented funding levels to expand services and decriminalize possession of personal amounts of substances. This study will develop and evaluate a strategy optimizing policy implementation, Discovery and Design Sessions (DDS). Cross-sector decision makers (e.g., community service providers, law enforcement, advocates) will co-design protocols for linking and disseminating data through products such as reports, simulations, and dashboards. Counties will be cluster randomized in a stepped wedge design to implementation or comparison groups to test the usability of the data products and impact of DDS on service gaps, evidence-based decision making, quality of evidence-based services, service recipient outcomes, and cross-sector collaboration. The study will provide state decision makers with recommendations and protocols for sustaining study infrastructure and output. If successful, the approach could be used as an implementation strategy for other substance use policies.

Charlotte NC - November 15th: Clark Barlowe at Heirloom restaurant. Photographed in Charlotte NC on November 15, 2019. Photo by Peter Taylor

Gracelyn Cruden, PhD

Dr. Gracelyn Cruden is a Research Scientist at Chestnut Health Systems’ Lighthouse Institute-Oregon Group. Her research leverages systems science, decision science, and implementation science to develop tools, processes, and partnerships to implement evidence-informed programs and policies. She collaborates with both state and county-level policymakers, including through a NIMH career development award (K01MH128761) that engages states implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act. This study aims to enhance and pilot test a multi-criteria decision analysis tool to support the selection of evidence-based interventions for implementation. She is also Principal Investigator for a NIH HEAL Data2Action study (R61DA059163) that aims to identify local and state decision makers’ data needs, then make those data available in user-friendly products. The overarching goal is to increase the use of data-driven decision making that aims to expand substance use prevention and treatment services and prevent overdoses. She is a Co-investigator on two NIDA HEAL-funded studies. For one of these, she led system dynamics modeling to inform the prevention adaptation of an evidence-based intervention for families referred to the child welfare system for parental substance use (PI: Saldana; UH3DA050193). For the second, she is leading system dynamics modeling to explore cost implications of addressing families’ social determinants of health through the Just Care for Families continuum of care services model (PI: Saldana; R01DA057556).