Tuesday, February 05, 2019

New survey method can help rural places understand the impact of the opioid epidemic and how to respond

Public health researchers from Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health have developed a survey method that helps local officials better understand better how to respond to the opioid epidemic.

"Researchers surveyed the population of people who inject drugs to understand their drug use and needs for essential public health services, including drug treatment and overdose-prevention resources," Michael Grass reports for Route Fifty. "Using these data, the study team was able to quantify the size and characteristics of the population of people who inject drugs."

The researchers developed and refined the technique by working with officials from Cabell County, West Virginia (Huntington), which has been hard hit by opioids. They found that 1,857 people in the county of 95,000 had used injection drugs such as heroin in the previous six months. Though Cabell County is largely urban, the researchers say the technique can help rural counties.

"This research demonstrates that rural communities can leverage innovative population-estimation methods to better understand population-level needs for services among people who inject drugs," Dr. Sean Allen, an assistant scientist in the Bloomberg school’s Department of Health, Behavior and Society, said in a statement.

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