Building Capacity for PROSPER Rx Implementation to Address the Opioid Epidemic in Rural Iowa

Currently, many Extension educators do not consider substance abuse or opioid misuse prevention to be an issue of relevance to their work. Addressing this requires raising awareness and presenting options for how educators may start taking small steps toward prevention-related activities in the counties they serve. Subsequent steps must involve addressing readiness and capacity challenges. We are developing an adoption readiness and capacity-building process with an integrated capacity-coaching framework that has been used successfully in other SAMHSA-funded prevention-focused projects in Iowa. This project is also planning to utilize motivational interviewing to reach county Extension educators where they are on a “stages of change” continuum, which may range from a lack of awareness of the opioid issue to currently taking action to implement and sustain evidence-based prevention programs. Employing a capacity coaching system and linking county Extension educators with State Targeted Response (STR)/State Opioid Response (SOR)-connected prevention professionals will allow resources to be aligned and opioid prevention capacity to be built in each participating county.

We are also developing a series of on-demand virtual trainings and webinars covering a range of opioid-related topics that will be publicly available via the PROSPER Rx Resource Website. The Resource Website also provides links to STR/SOR-related resources that are available, along with national resources and training opportunities. The third activity includes scaling-up and disseminating the Empowering Families to Grow Together (EFGT) online educational series that was developed through the current Rural Health and Safety Education (RHSE)-funded project. This series covers information addressing the risk and protective factors known to influence adolescent prescription drug misuse and how parents can identify the warning signs of mental health issues or substance abuse in preteens. This project allows us to offer it to more parents in more rural counties, thereby increasing the total number of parents being reached with opioid-related educational information.

This combined approach allows the ISU PROSPER Rx team to expand and enhance supports and tools for building and leveraging the capacity of Extension professionals, along with their state- and community-level partners, to move toward an evidence-based comprehensive community systems approach to addressing the opioid epidemic in underserved rural communities.


Principal Investigator: Lisa Schainker

Funder: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)