Lessons Learned from Developing Tailored Community Communication Campaigns in the HEALing Communities Study

J Health Commun. 2023 Oct 3;28(10):699-705. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2023.2262948. Epub 2023 Oct 6.


This paper outlines lessons learned from tailoring communication campaigns to increase demand for, and reduce stigma toward, evidence-based practices to reduce opioid overdose deaths in 66 communities participating in the HEALing (Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM) Communities Study (HCS). We present nine lessons gathered about how to engage local communities in both virtual and in-person opioid messaging and distribution between February 2019 and June 2022. The research team created four communication campaigns and did extensive, tailored marketing and promotion to assist communities in implementing evidence-based clinical activities to reduce opioid overdose mortality. Various strategies and venues were used to amplify HCS messages, using free and paid outlets for message distribution, focusing primarily on social media due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing the availability of medications for opioid use disorder and naloxone, as HCS attempted, is not enough; getting people to accept and use them depends on communication efforts. This paper focuses on the process of preparing communities for communication campaign activities, which we hope can help guide other communities preparing for opioid or substance-related campaigns in the future.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04111939.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • Communication*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Opiate Overdose* / prevention & control
  • Pandemics


  • Analgesics, Opioid

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04111939