Evaluation of the Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Program

The public health issue: Drug overdose deaths and poisoning related hospitalizations have increased in Pennsylvania over the past decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded the Pennsylvania Department of Health to implement the Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Program, which aims to advance comprehensive state-level interventions for preventing prescription drug overuse, misuse, abuse, and overdose to ultimately decrease the rate of opioid abuse; increase opioid use disorder treatment; decrease the rate of ER visits due to misuse/abuse of controlled prescription drugs; and decrease the drug overdose death rate, including prescription opioid and heroin overdose death rates. The Pennsylvania Department of Health wants to find out to what extent the program advances state-level interventions, as well as maximize a prescription drug monitoring program by determining its effectiveness as a surveillance tool.

Our contribution to the client: In order to determine the program’s effectiveness, the Research & Evaluation Group analyzes program data and surveys to assess the effectiveness of academic detailing and improved public health surveillance. Our team also provides evaluation information to the Department of Health through maps of program reach throughout the state; observations of academic detailing and educational activities; the collection of success stories related to use of the surveillance tool; key informant interviews with key stakeholders and prescribers; tracking of opiate overdose-related media; secondary data analysis of vital statistics and hospital data; and satisfaction surveys for users of the prescription drug monitoring program. The team also helps develop a policy-related database to document impact and enforcement of recent policies related to prescription drug overdose.