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Covid-19 information outreach for the homeless and people with opioid use disorders: Creating a train-the-trainer program to promote health information to a high risk population

Margaret Zimmerman, an Assistant Professor with the Florida State University’s (FSU’s) School of Information (SI) requests a grant for a Train the Trainer project to be developed and piloted with volunteers and professionals directly serving the NIH health disparity population of people who experience homelessness (socioeconomically disadvantaged) and people who possibly use opioids such as heroin and fentanyl. The proposed training will be in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. This grant will build upon Dr. Zimmerman’s previous experience working in health information outreach to underserved populations to improve the health literacy of members of these groups. While the opioid crisis has exploded since the introduction of fentanyl, people who use these narcotics have traditionally been medically underserved due to the stigma and illegality of their substance abuse issues. They experience a disproportionate rate of homelessness, hunger, and endemic poverty (Matto and Cleaveland, 2016). In a time when people in the United States are more isolated than ever due to quarantining practices and the suspension of some social services, people with opioid use disorders (OUDs) may be at heightened risk for contracting the novel coronavirus. The population of people who experience homelessness and OUDs have a significantly increased likelihood of contracting infectious diseases, along with heightened rates of morbidity, than the general population (Degenhardt et al., 2019; Hser et al., 2017; Wiese et al., 2018). The project that is being proposed is to develop training and curricular materials, with the assistance of a graduate student of health communication and a public health expert and based upon the materials provided by NIH, NLM, and the CDC, to assist volunteers and professionals that work and directly interact with the homeless population and people who suffer from OUDs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will include people who staff homeless shelters in the Florida panhandle, community health workers who work at organizations serving those with OUDs, and public librarians who often find themselves at the front lines of the combined crises of homelessness and opioid use. By creating and disseminating these materials, this project will improve health information access for patrons and the public relating to COVID-19, assist in providing access to health information for those experiencing homelessness and OUDs, increase awareness and utilization of NIH, NLM, and CDC as authoritative resources on COVID-19, and provide training and create resources relating to COVID-19 for the benefit of librarians, community health workers, and other health information intermediaries.

Identify any specific population(s) this project will serve: 
Medically Underserved Areas/Populations
Behavioral/Social Determinants of Health
NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative
African Americans or Black
Alaska Natives
American Indian
Latino or Hispanic
Native Hawaiians
Pacific Islanders
Identify roles of participants this project will serve: 
Community based organization staff
Educator, college & post-grad
General public
Health care provider
Library or information professional
Public health professional
Project Lead:
Margaret Zimmerman
Funding Source: 
Project Funding:
Federal Fiscal Year: 
Funding Amount: 
Funding Period:
Jan 18, 2021 to Apr 30, 2021
Project Status: