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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Kentucky: Complexities in Quantifying Opioid Overdose Fatalities

How do you obtain an accurate count of opioid overdose fatalities? It’s complicated.

A new paper from the University of Kentucky (UK) identifies nuances of medicolegal death investigations (MDI) and certification of overdose deaths that can influence drug overdose mortality surveillance as well as recent research, recommendations, and epidemiological tools for improved identification and quantification of specific drug involvement in overdose mortality.

The investigators conclude that epidemiologists can stimulate positive changes in MDI data quality by demonstrating the critical role of data in guiding public health and safety decisions and addressing the challenges of accurate and timely overdose mortality measures with stakeholders. Education, training, and resources specific to drug overdose surveillance and analysis will be essential as the nation’s overdose crisis continues to evolve.

Dr. Svetla Slavova, associate professor of biostatistics at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, is the first author of Methodological Complexities in Quantifying Rates of Fatal Opioid-Related Overdose, published in Current Epidemiology Reports. UK co-authors include Dr. Chris Delcher, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and science at the UK College of Pharmacy; Dr. Terry L. Bunn, professor of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health at the College of Public Health; and Dr. Julia Costich, professor of Health Management and Policy. Co-authors also include Dr. Jeannine M. Buchanich of the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Bruce A. Goldberger of the University of Florida.

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