VCOM Research Day Program Book 2023

Medical Student Research Publ ic Health

06 A 5-Year Assessment of the Patterns of Opioid Deaths and Health Equity Measures in Southwest Virginia, 2015 - 2019

Samuel C. Light, OMS III; Theresa J. McCann, PhD, MPH Corresponding author:

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia Campus

Community Survey. Study parameters included Southwest Virginia Health Districts as defined by the Virginia Department of Health and data from the years 2015 to 2019; all other data was excluded. Researchers examined relationships between variables to assess associations. Results : Researchers discovered that there have been a significant number and alarming rate of opioid deaths within health districts of Southwest Virginia from 2015-2019. The highest death rate per 100,000 people existed in the Roanoke Health District and lowest in Mount Rogers Health District. Regarding income, the highest mean income per individual and median income per household existed in the Alleghany Health District and the lowest for both variables in Lenowisco Health District. Regarding education, the New River Health District has the highest percentage of the population educated for all three levels of higher education while Cumberland Plateau Health District has the least percentage of the population educated. When examining poverty, the highest percent population in poverty existed in Cumberland Plateau Health District, while the lowest existed in the Alleghany Health District. Conclusion: Researchers have determined that opioid overdose deaths are not directly associated

with the health equity measures of income, poverty, and education. Opioid deaths may be due to a multifactorial relationship between numerous health equity measures which all play their own role in the opioid epidemic seen in areas throughout the state and country. Further study should be conducted to assess for interactions between opioid overdose deaths and other health equity characteristics for this region and other regions throughout the state

Context: The use of opioids has numerous negative consequences, the worse being death from unintentional overdose. Opioids have moved to the forefront of public health concern within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Record numbers of opioid use and resultant overdose deaths have been observed throughout Virginia and continue to rise. Numerous studies have been conducted regarding the impact of characteristics such as poverty, income, and education on opioid use and death however, few studies regarding this topic exist for the Southwest Virginia region. Relationships between health equity characteristics and opioid deaths throughout this region are largely unknown, and knowledge of this topic would be beneficial to the scientific community. Objective: The purpose of this research is to assess opioid deaths in Southwest Virginia as related to factors of health equity including income, poverty, and education. Information from this study can be used by entities such as healthcare agencies, public health departments, and local or state government, to make decisions and policies that will best serve the populations most effected by opioids. Methods: Data were gathered from publicly available data sets from the Virginia Department of Health, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and United State Census Bureau’s 5-Year American

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