Policy to prevent opioid overdose presented at national meeting

October 28, 2016

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 31, 2016 - Training Allegheny County Jail inmates in the use of the heroin overdose antidote drug naloxone, distributing free naloxone to the family and friends of local veterans at risk for overdosing, improving overdose data collection--these are among the main recommendations that an innovative public health law class at the University of Pittsburgh presented recently to the Allegheny County Health Department.

The recommendations -- and the extensive policy review that went into developing them -- are being shared today at the American Public Health Association 2016 Annual Meeting & Exposition in Denver.

"Heroin-related deaths have tripled in the past decade. There is no quick fix to the opioid overdose epidemic," said Elizabeth Van Nostrand, J.D., assistant professor of health policy and management at Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health, and adjunct professor at Pitt's School of Law. "And that is why carefully implemented, evidence-based policy is so crucial. We have limited resources, and they need to be used as effectively as possible, which is what good health policy does."

Van Nostrand's graduate class -- Law in Public Health Practice -- was developed with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Now in its second year, the class tackles a policy issue of interest to local agencies, spends the semester researching the issue and existing laws, and then makes extensive recommendations to the agencies, backed by suggested legal avenues toward implementation. About a dozen students pursuing degrees in diverse fields, including medicine, public health, law, genetics and economics, take the class.

Policy regarding naloxone--which can reverse an opioid overdose -- was the most recent topic tackled (last year's was tattoo parlor regulation). The class focused on three at-risk populations: veterans, inmates and school children.

In a 122-page report, the class provided five recommendations to the Allegheny County Health Department:

"Of the populations we studied, our research suggests that people recently released from incarceration would benefit the most from naloxone distribution because they are highly susceptible to overdosing," said Van Nostrand. "When someone with an opioid use disorder is released from jail, they may not be as motivated to maintain recovery in comparison to those who voluntarily seek treatment. And if they resume drug use at the levels used before incarceration, it could kill them."

Ultimately the team did not find sufficient evidence to make recommendations regarding naloxone policies in grade schools.
Authors of the report, "Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: Naloxone Availability as a Public Health Intervention in Allegheny County," are Alexandria Ashraf, B.S., Sara Brooks, B.A., Michael Coutinho, Kathleen Creppage, B.S., Alex Dulin, B.S., Spencer Keil, B.S., Julie Murphy, B.S., John Ries, B.S., Natalie Suder, M.P.H., Abby Talbert, B.S., and Lauren Torso, M.P.H., all of Pitt; and Andrew Cobb, B.A., of Carnegie Mellon University.

About the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, founded in 1948 and now one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, conducts research on public health and medical care that improves the lives of millions of people around the world. Pitt Public Health is a leader in devising new methods to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other important public health problems. For more information about Pitt Public Health, visit the school's Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu.


University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.