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Regards to all our listeners!
I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health-oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
High opioid use in counties across the U.S. was strongly associated with support for the Republican candidate in the 2016 national presidential election - (which has implications for public mental health) - finds an interesting study and an accompanying commentary recently published in JAMA Network Open.
Specifically, the study of more than three million Medicare Part D recipients suggests a significant correlation between a county's Republican presidential vote and the adjusted rate of recipients who received prescriptions for prolonged opioid use. In the 638 counties with the highest rates of opioid prescriptions, the mean Republican vote was about 60 percent versus about 39 percent in the 638 counties with significantly lower opioid prescription patterns.
The study's findings are based on a sample of Medicare Part D recipients from across the U.S. by county and a county's 2016 Presidential vote.
In an accompanying commentary, the author suggests articles, such as the current study,: (and we quote) 'are good examples of how available data sources can be used creatively to test whether mental health trends might be correlated with key outcomes such as elections' (end of quote).
The commentary's author continues (and we quote): 'As elections are how political leaders are chosen in a democracy, arguments for focusing on mental health in this context may be particularly convincing to elected policy makers' (end of quote).
The commentary's author suggests the study raises a number of important questions that cannot be answered from the current findings. For example, the commentary's author asks (and we quote): 'what is the root of the observed dynamic between opiate use and voting behavior? Are these trends specific to voting for (now U.S. President Donald) Trump or are there other candidates who perform similarly at the state level?' (end of quote).
The commentary's as well as the study's authors provide some suggestions for research to contextualize the current findings with more comparative data from future political elections with different underlying social dynamics. For example, will the same patterns occur in the U.S. mid-term elections that should be occurring at the time of the release of this podcast?
The commentary's author concludes (and we quote): 'the article's findings add to a growing body of literature showing the interrelationship between public (mental) health and society, including the all-important economic and political realms. Further work will undoubtedly continue to explore these connections and by extension, bring attention to the importance of addressing mental health and addiction in the policy realm' (end of quote).
Meanwhile turning to opioid use, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides an overview of the current American opioid epidemic within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's opioid abuse and addiction health topic page.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse details an ambitious plan to help solve the opioid crisis within the 'statistics and research' section of MedlinePlus.gov's opioid abuse and addiction health topic page.
Links to the latest pertinent journal research articles about opioid abuse and addiction are available in the 'journal articles' section of MedlinePlus.gov's opioid abuse and addiction health topic page. Links to relevant clinical trials that may be occurring in your area also are available in the 'clinical trials' section.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's opioid abuse and addiction health topic page, please type 'opioid abuse' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'opioid abuse and addiction (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also contains health topic pages that address: prescription drug abuse; mental health; and rural mental health.
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It was nice to be with you. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!