Disparities in Opioid Overdose Death Trends by Race/Ethnicity, 2018-2019, From the HEALing Communities Study

Marc R. Larochelle, Svetla Slavova, Elisabeth D. Root, Daniel J. Feaster, Patrick J. Ward, Sabrina C. Selk, Charles Knott, Jennifer Villani, Jeffrey H. Samet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. To examine trends in opioid overdose deaths by race/ethnicity from 2018 to 2019 across 67 HEALing Communities Study (HCS) communities in Kentucky, New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio. Methods. We used state death certificate records to calculate opioid overdose death rates per 100 000 adult residents of the 67 HCS communities for 2018 and 2019. We used Poisson regression to calculate the ratio of 2019 to 2018 rates. We compared changes by race/ethnicity by calculating a ratio of rate ratios (RRR) for each racial/ethnic group compared with non-Hispanic White individuals. Results. Opioid overdose death rates were 38.3 and 39.5 per 100 000 for 2018 and 2019, respectively, without a significant change from 2018 to 2019 (rate ratio = 1.03; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.98, 1.08). We estimated a 40% increase in opioid overdose death rate for non-Hispanic Black individuals (RRR = 1.40; 95% CI = 1.22, 1.62) relative to non-Hispanic White individuals but no change among other race/ethnicities. Conclusions. Overall opioid overdose death rates have leveled off but have increased among non-Hispanic Black individuals. Public Health Implications. An antiracist public health approach is needed to address the crisis of opioid-related harms. (Am J Public Health. 2021;111(10):1851-1854. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2021.306431).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1851-1854
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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