• Opioid Crisis Trends in Georgia: Using Data Management Systems to Better Inform Public Policy

      Sheikh, Nafiz; Tauhidul, Liniya; Medical College of Georgia
      Introduction: The nationwide opioid epidemic is arguably the most consequential public health crisis of the new millennium. Unfortunately, a dearth of medical literature exists analyzing the scope of the epidemic in Georgia. This presentation will investigate trends in fatal opioid overdoses in Georgia using a robust healthcare data management system: Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) WONDER. Methods: Using CDC WONDER, a cohort of all fatal opioid overdoses in Georgia from 1999 – 2017 was obtained (N=10,070). The group was then stratified by race, sex, age group, and overdosed opioid type. Time series analyses were used to determine trends, two-sided Chi-square tests with statistical significance set to p<0.05 used to compare opioid mortality proportions from different years and mortalities between age groups. Lastly findings were correlated to geography to ascertain if urbanization correlated to opioid mortality. Results: Approximately 1056 fatal opioid overdoses occurred in 2017, up 192% from 550 deaths in 2010. Fatal overdoses from heroin and synthetic accounted for only 2% and 17% of total deaths in 2010 but magnified to 20% and 32% by 2017 (p<0.05). Beginning 2013, heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl together drove Georgia opioid mortality sharply higher. Among different age groups, Georgians aged 25-34yrs experienced the highest mortalities compared to other females within the same age group (p<0.05) and to males and female in the 35-44yrs and 45-54yrs groups (p<0.05). Correlating fatalities to geography found urban areas in Atlanta, Augusta, and Columbus to have the highest mortality rates. Conclusion: Georgians have experienced an unprecedented surge in mortality from opioid-related overdoses in recent years. With robust healthcare data management systems, however, new research endeavors are poised to generate more thorough epidemiological reports that will better inform local and state health policy.