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Washington Tribal Opioid Abuse Prevention Campaign


Opioid use has touched the lives of too many families across Washington state, but the issue has disproportionately affected our Native American communities. Overdose rates in Indian Country are nearly triple the rate of any other community in Washington. The Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) Division of Behavioral Health (DBHR) have launched a multi-faceted campaign to support Tribes and urban Indian organizations in Washington as they work to reduce opioid abuse and misuse as well as connect people with treatment resources. As HCA’s partner in the statewide campaign to address the opioid crisis, DH supported HCA in expanding the Tribal Opioids Solution campaign to provide Tribes with new materials and tools for their public education work.

Understanding the Issue

Our campaign, like all of our social behavior change work, began with research that would help ground the campaign. We wanted to learn about the issue from those closest to it in Indian Country. Interviews with 17 tribal representatives across Washington informed our mix of campaign messages, visuals, media types and outreach strategy. This collaboration at the early stage of our work built trust and a positive working relationship with tribal representatives, ensuring that the overall campaign approach was culturally appreciative and built to address their most important needs.

Campaign Development

With the research in hand, we developed campaign assets including collateral, informational videos, event kits and social media content. We also purchased medication locking bags and produced an inventory of printed materials Tribes can order from HCA. DH team members participated in tribal conferences and meetings to share status updates of the campaign and the new tools available for Tribes.

A significant portion of the campaign involved working directly with individual Tribes to fulfill the technical assistance and media buy aspects of the grant. A total of seven Tribes applied for the grant and requested customized print materials, including transit decals, posters, flyers, rack cards, print ad placements in tribal publications, billboards and event banners. Three Tribes utilized grant funding to implement Facebook media buys that included social graphics customized with each tribe’s logo, local resources and help lines.

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Evaluation Research

After our deliverables had been placed and the campaign was off and running, DH circled back with tribal representatives to evaluate how these new tools worked, gather feedback on how the campaign can be improved and ideas about future needs. It was important for us to gauge not just the effectiveness of the campaign, but also how the process unfolded with these tribal representatives.

End Result

While it’s early in the life of this campaign, we’ve received very positive feedback from Tribes about the new materials. Success will be measured by how many Tribes actively utilize campaign materials in their local educational efforts. Over 300 locking bags have been distributed and requests for printed posters and rack cards are steady. We are grateful to have received the opportunity to work alongside the Washington State Health Care Authority and tribal representatives to create safer and healthier communities for all.

“The materials are beautiful and eye-catching. I love them. We had a health fair last week… People were picking up the rack cards and putting them in their bags. I think they’re a good gateway to start the conversation. They’re catchy and draw people to look at them. All pertinent information. They would do good at a glance.”  

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