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Encouraging Abstinence Behavior in an Opioid Epidemic: A Pilot Study
Last registered on November 22, 2019


Trial Information
General Information
Encouraging Abstinence Behavior in an Opioid Epidemic: A Pilot Study
Initial registration date
November 06, 2019
Last updated
November 22, 2019 10:05 PM EST

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Primary Investigator
UC Berkeley
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Numerous studies have shown that providing incentives can encourage abstinence from drugs in drug-treatment settings. Despite evidence that incentives are effective and the increasing need for effective approaches to combat the addiction crisis, incentive programs have not been widely implemented. A key barrier is that while the benefits are largely borne by patients and taxpayers, there are large logistical costs that must be borne by clinics. We propose to conduct the first randomized evaluation of an innovative, scalable incentives program for opioid addiction delivered through a mobile application. The efficacy of this approach has not been tested rigorously before.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Dizon-Ross, Rebecca and Ariel Zucker. 2019. "Encouraging Abstinence Behavior in an Opioid Epidemic: A Pilot Study." AEA RCT Registry. November 22. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5000-1.1.
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Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Duration of abstinence as measured by in-clinic urinalysis
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
To answer our research questions, we will conduct a randomized controlled trial of temporary incentives to encourage either abstinence, or inputs to abstinence, among 600 adults with opioid use disorders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Participants will be recruited from outpatients with substance use disorders in treatment at the Adult Behavioral Health Program within the Aurora Health Care System. Incentivized behaviors will be monitored and rewarded through a mobile application developed by our implementing technology partner, Dynamicare Management. We will evaluate the incentives using a combination of administrative data and surveys. In preparation for this experiment, we will conduct a Phase 1 pilot of 36-50 individuals to test and fine-tune our study protocols. In our pilot study, we will randomly assign individuals to either receive the mobile application to incentivize abstinence, a version of the application that has behavior monitoring but no incentives, or control. The full experimental design will be developed following this pilot.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Ordered treatment assignment lists are randomly generated in the office by a computer using Stata 15, and treatments are assigned to participants on rolling basis.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
1 clinic
Sample size: planned number of observations
We aim to enroll approximately 36-50 individuals in the pilot.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
The following treatment group distribution in the pilot is approximate, since enrollees will be assigned to treatments in a pre-determined order but may withdraw.

Treatment Groups:
T1 – Incentives: 1/3
T2 – Monitoring Only: 1/3
T3 – Control: 1/3
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Part of the aim of this pilot is to determine MDEs for the main experiment.
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number