Improving Treatment Together: a protocol for a multi-phase, community-based participatory, and co-design project to improve youth opioid treatment service experiences in British Columbia Marchand, Kirsten; Tallon, Corinne; Katan, Christina; Fairbank, Jill; Fogarty, Oonagh; Pellatt, Katrina M.; Turuba, Roxanne; Mathias, Steve; Barbic, Skye
Background Opioid use is one of the most critical public health issues as highly potent opioids contribute to rising rates of accidental opioid-related toxicity deaths. This crisis has affected people from all age groups, including youth (ages 15–24) who are in a critical developmental period where the stakes of opioid use are especially high. Efforts to reduce the significant harms of opioid use have focused on the expansion of evidence-based treatments, including medications for opioid use disorder (e.g. buprenorphine). While these treatments are unequivocally life saving, recent evidence suggests that they may not align with youths’ needs. Accordingly, the ‘Improving Treatment Together’ (ITT) project has been designed with the aim to improve youths’ opioid treatment service experiences and outcomes by co-developing, implementing, and measuring youth-centred opioid use treatment service innovations. This manuscript describes the protocol for this multi-phase project. Methods The ITT project follows community-based participatory research (CBPR) and strategically integrates co-design processes throughout its four phases. Upon establishing a project partnership between national, provincial and community-based organizations, Phase 1 follows four core elements of human-centred co-design (empathy, needs identification, ideation, prototyping) in nine separate workshops. These workshops will be held in four diverse communities with youth, caregivers and service providers who have accessed or delivered opioid treatment services. Phase 1 will culminate in the co-production of opioid treatment service innovations to be considered by the project’s partners for further co-development, pilot testing, and wider implementation during the remaining phases of the project. Throughout each phase, the project will collect and analyse both qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation data to determine the project’s impact. Discussion This protocol provides a detailed description of the ITT project, with an emphasis on the project’s application of co-design and CBPR processes, the planned research and implementation procedures, and the establishment of a unique partnership. To our knowledge, this is one of the first projects to integrate these participatory processes to the design, implementation and measurement of youth-centred opioid treatment services. Embedding these processes throughout each phase of the project will strengthen the relevance and feasibility of the project’s service delivery innovations.
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