An innovative initiative that will use a public health approach to inform opioid prescribing policies will be launched in northern New England thanks to a new $339,000 grant to the Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research (NNE-CTR) Network from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The program, titled “Hospital Utilization for Opioid Overdose: A Community-Engaged Multidisciplinary Approach to Measure the Impact of Policy Change and Inform Interventions,” will help address a critical health crisis in the region and nation.
Launched in 2017, the NNE-CTR has a mission to develop and sustain a clinical and translational research infrastructure that supports improvement in rural and community health for inhabitants in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The Northeast has the largest percentage of residents over 65 years of age. Consequently, the NNE-CTR supports a broad spectrum of clinical and translational studies that emphasize health problems endemic in the rural populations of northern New England. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, substance abuse, and barriers that compromise rural health care delivery are priorities.
Recently passed opioid-prescribing and prescription drug monitoring legislation in both Maine and Vermont aims to reduce access to prescription opioids and make it more difficult for patients to obtain prescriptions from multiple providers. UVM investigators Valerie Harder, Ph.D., M.H.S., and Timothy Plante, M.D., M.H.S., and Maine investigator Kathleen Fairfield, M.D., Dr.PH, will analyze whether that legislation has successfully led to a decrease in opioid-related overdoses, hospitalizations and other medical events. The team will also look for evidence of unintended consequences, such as patients with substance use disorders using heroin, and will analyze the demographic trends of patient outcomes.
“A decisive strength of the program is our collaboration with colleagues at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute,” says Gary Stein, Ph.D., principal investigator of the NNE-CTR and director of the University of Vermont Cancer Center. “This new initiative launched on September 1. The complementary institutional expertise will have impact locally, regionally and beyond.”
“There is confidence the program will provide options and opportunities for development of a blueprint to address opioid overdose, with the potential to have a powerful influence on addressing addiction in northern New England,” says Clifford Rosen, M.D., principal investigator of the NNE-CTR and director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Maine Medical Center Research Institute. “The grant leverages the research infrastructure of the NNE-CTR and will reinforce the reach of the NNE-CTR in a high priority medical challenge for our region and beyond.”
The NNE-CTR Network is comprised of six program areas, each co-led by a faculty member from the University of Vermont and Maine Medical Center, including: Rural Health Research & Delivery; Translational Research Technologies; Clinical Research Design, Epidemiology & Biostatistics; Pilot Projects Program; and Professional Development, with the Tracking & Evaluation program led by faculty from the University of Southern Maine.
Research conducted as part of this grant is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number U54GM115516. The content is solely the responsibility of the grantee institutions and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.