Special Emphasis Notice (SEN): AHRQ Announces Interest in Health Services Research to Address Substance Use Disorder Epidemic
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

March 3, 2021

Related Announcements

PA-17-232 - AHRQ Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08)

PA-18-765 - Funding Opportunity Title AHRQ Health Services Research Dissertation Program (R36)

PA-18-793 -AHRQ Health Services Research Demonstration and Dissemination Grants (R18)

PA-18-794 - AHRQ Small Research Grant Program (R03)

PA-18-795 - AHRQ Health Services Research Projects (R01)

PA-20-067 - AHRQ Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award (K01)

NOT-HS-18-015 - Special Emphasis Notice (SEN): AHRQ Announces Interest in Health Services Research to Address the Opioids Crisis

Issued by

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)


Drug overdose deaths and morbidity from substance use disorder continue to rise despite the fall in opioid prescriptions and the increase in evidence-based screening and use of effective medications for opioid use disorder. In particular, polysubstance use and stimulant use disorders such as cocaine and methamphetamine have steadily increased over the past few years. The continuing rise in the number of patients with substance use disorder places a particular burden on clinicians in ambulatory care settings who need to manage patients substance use disorder in the context of other chronic conditions. Furthermore, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fact that the root causes and contributors to substance use disorder have not been adequately addressed and have exacerbated existing disparities in substance use disorder screening and treatment.

The purpose of this Special Emphasis Notice (SEN) is to inform the research community that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is interested in receiving health services research grant applications to advance our nation's understanding of the substance use disorder crisis and provide solutions for addressing it.

In this SEN, AHRQ is interested in health services research to prevent, identify and treat substance use disorders with a high degree of interest in applications that respond to the following three specific areas of focus:

1. Dissemination and implementation of evidence-based, non-pharmacological and behavioral interventions that can treat multiple substances or polysubstance use in ambulatory care and primary care settings, with a particular interest in substances for which pharmacological treatments are not available.

2. Development and testing of healthcare services interventions in primary care and ambulatory care settings to address substance use disorder that consider the social, environmental, economic and psychological factors that contribute to substance use disorder. Examples include care coordination, integration of substance use services in ambulatory care settings, or integration of population health approaches with primary care. Applications that take advantage of the natural experiment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to examine how changes in service delivery (such as expanded use of telehealth) affect access to care, quality of care, and health inequities are particularly welcome.

3. Understanding and addressing the effect of substance use disorder on whole person health and the development and/or management of other chronic conditions.

AHRQ is especially interested in health services research applications that addressing the following priorities:

  • Reducing disparities for racial/ethnic minorities, children and adolescents, women, older adults, low-income communities and rural populations
  • Addressing the needs of people with multiple chronic conditions and addressing substance use disorders in the context of whole person health
  • Improving healthcare quality, health behaviors, shared decision making and patient experiences

The Agency encourages research teams to submit applications in response to this emphasis using AHRQ’s standing R18, R03, and R01 funding mechanisms (PA-18-793, PA-18-794, PA-18-795). AHRQ also is interested in receiving career development awards (PA-20-067 and PA-17-232) that propose developing generalizable health service research skills through projects related to the substance use disorder crisis. Additionally, AHRQ has interest in receiving dissertation award grant proposals that relate to the substance use disorder crisis (PA-18-765).

Applicants should clearly state in their cover letter and project summary of their grant application that they are responding to this SEN by including the title and number of this SEN NOT-HS-21-010. Applications responding to this SEN should be submitted on regular application receipt dates identified in the respective Funding Opportunity Announcement and will be reviewed by AHRQ standing study sections. Applicants should consider this SEN active until March 15, 2023. This Opioids SEN supersedes the NOT-HS-18-015.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Elisabeth Kato, MD, MRP

Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality


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