Addressing the opioid crisis in Milwaukee County, WI using data to drive action

Authors: Amir Masoud Forati*, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Rina Ghose, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Geography and Urban Health, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: Health, GIS, Opioid, Healthcare, big data, MGWR, GWR
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In order to investigate racialized health disparities in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, we investigate opioid overdose disorder (OUD) determinants. Over the past 16 years, the United States has experienced a dramatic increase in deaths due to OUD making it the leading cause of deaths from unintentional injury in the United States. We obtained data with multiple, high-quality measures of socio-economic, public health status, and demographics to provide a novel analysis of opioid overdose rate determinants by employing a multiscale modeling approach (Multiscale Geographically weighted regression) while demonstrating current best practices for building, interpreting, and reporting results for the model. By doing so, this research overcomes the limitations of previous work and establishes a methodology for carrying out similar studies in the future. In particular, this study concentrates on analyzing datasets to examine OUD patterns and variabilities across Milwaukee County in 2019. The overall aim is to accurately capture determinants of opioid overdose and how the effect of these determinants varies across the urban environment and different communities to create effective population-level interventions. Analyzing 225 potential variables, the model was able to explain 83% of opioid overdose death variability in different neighborhoods in hyper-segregated Milwaukee county by 15 selected variables. Our findings unveil dramatic racialized health disparities in Milwaukee, suggesting that while the Narcan program which aimed at distributing naloxone among communities was relatively successful at managing the epidemic among the majority white population, it was not successful at controlling the opioid epidemic among certain marginalized minorities in Milwaukee county.

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