Digital Media to Increase Utilization of a Statewide Addiction Consultation Service’s Training Opportunities

Anna Whitney, MPH, Kelly Coble, LCSW-C, Bridget Sweeney, BA, Meaghan Elliott, MPS, Vivian Huang, BS, Veronica Brown, MPH and Eric Weintraub, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

Theoretical Background and research questions/hypothesis:

In 2021, over 100,000 people died from drug overdoses across the United States. According to 2021 national survey data, 94% of individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) did not receive treatment, illuminating the need for expanded access to SUD services, including SUD education for healthcare providers. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased virtual training attendance among providers. The Maryland Addiction Consultation Service (MACS) expands access to SUD services across Maryland through consultation, education, and technical assistance to providers. Digital media channels are an integral part of how we engage providers in services. The aim of this poster is to demonstrate how digital media impacts provider utilization of SUD education opportunities.


From August 2021 to December 2022, MACS provided buprenorphine waiver trainings (n=17), virtual trainings (n=9), and webinars (n=16) about SUD and chronic pain services to Maryland healthcare providers. Self-reported data from the training registration forms were used to determine attendees referred through digital media sources: website, newsletter, event emails, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and advertisements.


Of 1,139 providers who attended training, 1,105 (97%) answered the referral source question. 42.7% (n=472) heard about the event through a digital media channel and 57.3% (n=633) through a non-digital source, such as colleague or friend, a presentation, or a mailing. The most frequently reported digital media channel was email marketing (34.9% (n=386)), followed by the newsletter (3.6% (n=40)), the program website (3.4% (n=37)), social media (0.63% (n=7)), and an advertisement (0.18% (n=2)). The findings suggest the evaluation of digital media as an effective way of recruiting training attendees.


Digital media channels, particularly event-specific email marketing, offer promising avenues for engaging healthcare providers in educational opportunities to expand their knowledge about substance use. Based on the findings, expanding our email listserv would be an effective way to increase provider training attendance as well as exploring evidence-based digital media platforms to generate provider training attendance. Advertisements and social media ranked lowest for number of referrals; however, the digital advertising efforts for training opportunities have grown. Limitations include self-report bias, survey design, and poor generalizability due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Implications for research and/or practice:

Self-report and survey design bias can be reduced by utilizing tracking link data, a tool used to measure and evaluate digital marketing efforts through URL codes. Education management systems are also helpful in streamlining training evaluations and processes and have become increasingly popular for medical education. As the need for SUD care grows increasingly urgent and the use of digital media more common, incorporating digital methods to drive provider participation in SUD training is an important component in expanding access to care.