“I’ve never been invited to the table. They just get together and come up with their own plan without asking for our input.”
Our Approach

Our Approach

Guided by a team of five recovery leaders — Black women with lived experience of substance use disorder (SUD) and criminal legal system involvement (CLSI) — women from five states (Georgia, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas) with this same lived experience were compensated to participate in discussions and focus groups. 

To ensure a diversity of thought and response, focus groups were made up of Black women from differing backgrounds, bringing a range of understanding and intersectionality. Our call for participation invited self-identified Black women with self-identified experience with substance misuse and the legal system. The resulting cohort included Black women of mixed races, ages, and gender identities.



Based on the focus groups, the Black Women CARE project recommends that researchers: 

  1. Intentionally engage Black women with lived experience
  2. Build relationships and build trust
  3. Follow trauma-informed engagement approaches
  4. Equate lived experience with expertise
  5. Follow up with research participants afterwards
  6. Compensate research participants for their time and expertise 
  7. Study what matters to community members
Authors and Acknowledgements

Authors and Acknowledgements


Sandra Benton

Angela Burton

India Hayes-Larrier

Laurie Johnson-Wade

Annie Powell

Phil Rutherford

Angelia Smith-Wilson

Tarusa Stewart

Cassandra Williams-Richards 


Black Women CARE is funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute® (PCORI®) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award Engagement Award (EACB-24745).