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I am a public health practitioner in an office based opioid treatment program-- I've wanted to support a community based evaluation of the treatment services and lack thereof in the small city we are in and have gotten some funding to do so. I was hoping to bring in more treatment professionals and community groups to aid in designing this evaluation but am finding that there is a real shortage of time and energy from this pool and I want to try to make it easier to participate. I'm hoping for some greater structure for participation for these groups with the goal of really hearing from people who have sought services. How do I make participation in assessment design/processes accessible and exciting? Should I run a simple pre-survey-survey about what we may want to ask? I have a lot of ideas but feel uncomfortable running with them in the absence of others-- I pitched a community project but am a bit stuck without additional community members to start.

Hi Shay,
This is such an excellent question and I really empathize with your feelings of working alone in this important area. There appear to be several layers here: 1) Community resource utilization of opioid services  2) the need for a Needs Assessment of community needs related to opioid resources and 3) buy in from other community stakeholders and potential partners and 4) hearing from the clients who have sough services. I would recommend starting with a focus group or survey of service recipients if possible-to truly hear from those who have sought services (always upholding the highest standards of privacy and confidentiality, but there may be some options for you to help coordinate within agency focus groups who have the access to recipients. If you gain buy in from other providers, you could train them to send a survey or run a focus group with their care recipients. I would also recommend conducting a focus group of other community providers (perhaps your grant has some funds for a luncheon?). Often times sharing a meal compels busy partners to have some buy in. Another potential option is to offer a focus group in a virtual format for busy participants. Here are some guidelines from our community tool box on conducting focus groups:
Additionally, understanding service utilization in your area is important and here are some guidelines from our toolbox on resource utilization:
In terms of needs assessment, I think this fits in well with your idea of pre-assessment that you mentioned. Here are some great resources on needs assessments: and
I hope this helps! Thanks for your commitment to excellence.
In Community,
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Question Date: Mon, 10/25/2021