Harm reduction is an evidence-based, often life-saving approach to preventing overdose, disease transmission and other harms among people who use drugs.
To combat the country's ongoing opioid epidemic, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has established a harm reduction research network to build upon existing harm reduction research and develop new strategies. The network will include a coordinating center and nine research studies at institutions nationwide, including the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Ryan Westergaard, MD, PhD, MPH, associate professor, Infectious Disease, will lead a team of researchers who will test the effectiveness of remote intervention tools such as overdose prevention hotlines and support via secure smartphone applications, focussing on underserved populations in both rural and urban Wisconsin.
"These are important unanswered questions about how [these tools] can best be implemented, and whether novel and emerging strategies are feasible and acceptable to the diverse communities affected by drug addiction in the United States," Dr. Westergaard says.