IQP: Stigma Free Worcester


Stigma Free Worcester

The Big Idea:

In collaboration with the City of Worcester Health and Human Services Department, this IQP team created an accessible directory of substance use treatment services and related resources through a mobile app. Prior to the project, there was a lack of communication between service providers and those seeking treatment. Through in-person visits, semi-structured interviews, focus groups with potential users, and a survey, team members collected information and received feedback related to app features and designs. They determined which features were most useful, while keeping the app simple and user-friendly.


Walker Christie

Kyle Foley

Natasha Honcharik

Michael Kola


Professor Thomas Balistrieri

How it works:

The application will help those seeking treatment and support by easily communicating with local organizations and services. Because the application is not intended for medical emergencies, a message at the top of the screen tells users to call 911 if the situation is urgent; it links to step-by-step instructions on what to do if witnessing someone experiencing an overdose, what to say when calling 911, what to do while waiting for the ambulance, and how to perform rescue breathing. The home screen has five buttons, one for each major category. Each meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and is offered in the most common languages in the Worcester area: English, Spanish, and Albanian. Categories include substance use, housing & shelter, mental health & support, food & clothing, and events calendar. The listings are automatically sorted by distance, showing the user nearby locations first.

What’s next:

The app will be published; ownership and account access will be transferred to the Department of Health & Human Services technical department.

This project won the 2019 President’s IQP Award.

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