MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Lyndsey Rolheiser PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Center for Population Studies
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The opioid crisis was declared a “public health emergency” in 2017. Opioid related overdoses and prescribing rates have increased dramatically over the past decade and previous literature has identified a relationship between high-dose prescriptions and overdose deaths. Thus, understanding the variation and trends in the opioid prescribing rate is crucial in understanding the nature of the opioid epidemic. Opioid prescribing data is publicly available at the county and state level.
County level data represents an administrative boundary that lacks political representation and accountability. In contrast, the congressional district represents a geography that has both of these characteristics. Further, knowing the congressional district level rates allows for policy makers and researchers to observe the variation that exists within states.
The main findings are high prescribing rate districts are concentrated in the South, Appalachia and the rural West. Low-rate districts are concentrated in urban centers.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: There is a great deal of variation across congressional districts, but there are also very clear geographical patterns. In terms of policy, this paper highlights the importance of constructing and disseminating crucial public health data at a politically relevant boundary.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Our hope is that the estimates we have created can be used within health related public policy research.
Citation: Lyndsey A. Rolheiser, Jack Cordes, BSPH, S.V. Subramanian. Opioid Prescribing Rates by Congressional Districts, United States, 2016. American Journal of Public Health, 2018; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304532
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