Mapping historical and ongoing spatial inequities in access to medications for opioid use disorder: A 40-year longitudinal analysis

Authors: Qinyun Lin*, University of Chicago, Marynia Kolak, University of Chicago, Olina Liang, University of Chicago
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, United States
Keywords: medications for opioid use disorder, spatial access, spatial inequities
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 8
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Amid the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States access to medications (methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone) is increasingly critical to reduce ill-effects associated with opioid use. Thus, identifying access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) over time enables researchers to better understand how shifting access to these medications may impact opioid-related fatalities and adverse health outcomes, such as rates of endocarditis, hepatitis B and C, and HIV among people with opioid use disorder. Using historical data (National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment surveys from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]) and spatial analysis, this study maps geographic access to MOUD over the last 40 years (i.e., 1980-2019). Through this analysis, this study highlights historical and ongoing changes in access to these medications and visualizes spatial inequities across the continental United States in terms of access to MOUD. Furthermore, since existing quantitative studies differently measure access to MOUD, we measure access using various metrics and thresholds and demonstrate how differences in this measurement affect results and researchers’ interpretations of the absolute and relative accessibility and spatial inequity of MOUD. Ultimately, the findings of this study are especially relevant to healthcare providers, public health professionals, and policymakers.

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