Mobile Peer Support for OUD Recovery (MPS)

  • End date
    Mar 16, 2025
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Brown University
Updated on 16 June 2022


The COVID-19 pandemic puts individuals recovering from opioid use disorders (OUDs), an already vulnerable population, at increased risk of overdose due to decreased access to treatment, decreased social support, and increased psychosocial stress. This proposal will test the efficacy of a promising mobile app-based peer support program, compared to usual care, in increasing recovery capital, improving retention in treatment, and reducing psychosocial adverse effects, among a national sample of people in recovery from OUD. If effective, it would provide an accessible, personalized, and scalable approach to OUD recovery increasingly needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Increasing numbers of opioid overdoses have been observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, likely reflecting the pandemic's multiple effects on this already vulnerable population. People in recovery from opioid use disorder (OUD) have reported disproportionate psychosocial distress and isolation, as well as significant disruptions in access to treatment including peer support, during the COVID-19 pandemic. These negative outcomes are especially acute for rural, low-income, and minority populations in recovery from OUD. Peer support is a key component of many evidence-based OUD recovery programs: it improves recovery capital, improves treatment engagement, improves perceived social support, and reduces psychosocial distress, particularly when used in conjunction with other evidence-based treatments such as medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD). This grant, submitted in response to PA 20-237, therefore proposes a randomized controlled trial of a novel mobile peer support app platform among a national sample of 1300 patients in recovery from opioid use disorders (OUDs), as an adjunct to usual care, during COVID-19. The previously piloted online-only recruitment and follow-up strategy - in which investigators meld patient-reported outcomes with administrative datasets - allows strategic recruitment of often-excluded participants from across the United States, including those facing the highest barriers to treatment. The mobile app-based peer support intervention, provided as an individual-level enhancement of existing treatment and recovery programs, will allow individuals in OUD recovery to access a tailored, anonymous, peer-moderated support group 24/7. The app is augmented with natural language processing tools capable of automatically 'flagging' critical or clinically relevant content, thereby creating a scalable system to keep groups safe and constructive. Participants will be followed for 6 months through both self-report and administrative outcomes. The study's primary outcome is self-reported recovery capital, complemented by objectively measured administrative data on retention in treatment programs from our community and governmental partners in a sub-sample of 650 patients from RI and IN. Hypothesized secondary outcomes are mitigation of psychosocial effects of COVID-19 on this vulnerable population, including depressive symptoms, stress, and loneliness, as well as objective adverse events of emergency department visits and opioid overdoses. Finally, the investigators will explore whether state- and county-level variables moderate efficacy. OUD is a major public health problem, and patients in recovery from OUD are experiencing worse outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. If this mobile app demonstrates efficacy among a large national sample of patients, it has the potential to augment existing treatment programs, improve recovery capital, and reduce disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on this vulnerable population.

Condition Opioid Use Disorder
Treatment Mobile Phone App
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05405712
SponsorBrown University
Last Modified on16 June 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Age ≥ 18 years old
Own their own smartphone
Self-identifying as being in recovery from or treatment for an opioid use disorder

Exclusion Criteria

Does not have an Android or iOS platform smartphone
Previous enrollment in the study
Currently incarcerated
Unable to provide informed consent
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