New Data Visualization Tool Enables In-Depth, County-by-County Look at Impact of Opioid Epidemic in Appalachian Region

CHICAGO, March 20, 2018 — Today, NORC at the University of Chicago and the Appalachian Regional Commission released the Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool, a data visualization tool illustrating the impact of the opioid epidemic in the Appalachian Region and its relation to socioeconomic factors such as unemployment, poverty, education, and disability.

The Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool integrates overdose mortality rates for each Appalachian county with data on unemployment, poverty, and disability, as well as other socioeconomic variables. Users can compare county-level information with regional and national data and see changes in the data between 2006–2010 and 2011–2015. The mapping tool can also generate fact sheets to assist in community planning and response efforts.

In August 2017, NORC’s Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, which also participated in developing the mapping tool, produced a report for ARC titled Appalachian Diseases of Despair which reveals the extent of mortality rates in Appalachia due to alcoholic liver disease, overdose, and suicide. The study found that in 2015, overdose-related mortality rates for Appalachia’s 25-44-year-old age group—those in their prime working years—were more than 70 percent higher than for the same age group in the country’s non-Appalachian areas. Read more