2016-2020 NIDA Strategic Plan
Goal 4: Objective 4.3

Objective 4.3: Increase strategic partnerships with the community to improve dissemination and implementation of evidence-based research findings into policy and practice

As discussed in Goals 2 and 3, there is a significant research-to-practice gap in the implementation of evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies. Implementation science develops and tests strategies for increasing effective and sustainable uptake of scientific advances by service and treatment providers in real-world settings. To accomplish this, strong partnerships with organizations that have the power to affect real-world implementation are needed.

Health care providers, payers, federal and state agencies, state Medicaid directors, public health agencies, educators, community coalitions, and others need to be engaged early and often throughout the development and testing of prevention and treatment interventions to ensure that real-world barriers (e.g., workforce, billing) are taken into consideration. These collaborations should also help researchers prioritize efforts to address critical ongoing barriers to effective prevention and treatment of SUDs. International collaborations are also important for building research capacity in other countries and leveraging the global network of scientific experts on addiction to ensure that we all learn from one another’s successes and failures and generate knowledge that will benefit everyone.


  • Support the development of models to scale up evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions and implementation strategies
  • Explore nontraditional methods for addressing current barriers to effective prevention and treatment, such as workforce shortages and engagement of nontreatment seekers
  • Develop educational materials and training tools, including clinical decision support, to support effective dissemination of evidence-based practices
  • Develop new methods for assessing service delivery outcomes of care in diverse settings in real time

Real-World Impact: Training Clinicians

Many health care providers are hesitant to address SUDs and related issues, such as the risk for misusing prescription pain relievers. This is often because clinicians are not adequately trained to address these issues during medical school and because drug use can be a sensitive topic that many people are uncomfortable discussing. U.S. medical schools offer only minimal training in pain management, for example, leaving many doctors uncertain of how to treat patients with pain.85 This lack of training contributes to the overprescribing of highly addictive opioids. Research shows that most people who misuse these medications get them from legitimate prescriptions—either their own or those of friends or family members.1

To address these problems, NIDA established the NIDAMED initiative to educate health care providers on how to identify, prevent, and treat SUDs and how to safely prescribe medications for pain. With the help of Medscape Education and funding from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, NIDA developed continuing medical education (CME) courses that provide practical guidance for physicians and other clinicians in screening pain patients for SUD risk factors before prescribing and in identifying when patients are misusing their medications. The courses use videos that model effective communication about sensitive issues without losing sight of addressing the patient’s pain. As of October 2, 2015, more than 113,000 clinicians had completed these courses for CME credit. Also, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American Academy of Physicians Assistants, and the American Academy of Family Physicians offered these CMEs to their members for credit.

NIDAMED is currently partnering with a coalition of professional health care organizations along with experts in the addiction and clinical implementation field to improve adult and adolescent patient outcomes related to SUDs. The coalition includes the following:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • California Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine
  • American Osteopathic Association
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners
  • American Academy of Physicians Assistants

The coalition is creating a CME that will train health care providers on how to prevent SUDs in adolescent patients. It will focus on prescription drug misuse and marijuana and tobacco use, as well as use of other drugs. 

NIDAMED enables physicians to be the first line of defense against drug use and addiction and to increase awareness of the likely impact of substance use on a patient’s overall health.