How can data help us to better understand and respond to the opioid crisis?
The February seminar of the Center for Quantitative Methods and Data Sciences (QM&DS), in partnership with the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD) Center at Tufts CTSI and the Data-Intensive Studies Center (DISC) at Tufts University, occurred on Wednesday, February 17 from 2-3pm via Zoom. The topic of the webinar was "Spatial Epidemiological Analysis and Modeling of Opioid Decedent Data." Click enroll to view the archived recording from this webinar.
The current opioid crisis has contributed to precipitous increases in opioid use disorder, fatal overdoses, and infectious diseases. Opioid-related overdoses alone have increased five-fold during the past two decades in Massachusetts. Decedent data, available through the Massachusetts Registry for Vital Records and Statistics, provide a valuable resource to better understand and respond to the opioid crisis. Together with his GIS and spatial epidemiology team, Dr. Thomas Stopka has explored the spatial distribution of fatal overdoses across the state to identify high-risk locations and inform targeted public health responses.
In this presentation, Dr. Stopka provided an overview of his work, with a focus on geo-mapping, spatial epidemiological analyses, statistical modeling, and geographically weighted regression analyses. He highlighted fatal overdose hotspots, factors associated with overdose, spatial access to services, and unique approaches to modeling the risk landscape.
Faculty: Thomas Stopka, MS, PhD is is an associate professor with the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at the Tufts University School of Medicine. He has contributed to and led numerous mixed methods, interdisciplinary, and translational studies focused on the intersection of opioid use disorder, overdose, and infectious disease since 1999. Dr. Stopka has employed geographic information systems (GIS), spatial epidemiological, qualitative, biostatistical, and laboratory approaches in multi-site, multi-investigator studies and public health interventions to better understand and curb the opioid syndemic. He currently leads and contributes to several studies funded by the NIH, CDC, SAMHSA, state and local public health departments, and private and philanthropic agencies, with a focus on development and implementation of evidence-based interventions among opioid users in New England. Dr. Stopka is Co-Chair of the Tufts research priority group focused on equity in health, wealth, and civic engagement. He teaches courses in GIS and spatial epidemiology, research methods for public health, and epidemiology.