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Researchers, staff members, and program partners from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) presented on a variety of topics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) Recipient Meeting in June.

The virtual meeting’s theme was Resiliency and Reflections: Overcoming Challenges and Highlighting Successes. The three-day event featured plenary and breakout sessions. KIPRC personnel delivered seven different presentations. KIPRC, along with its partners, implements OD2A strategies to impact Kentuckians’ drug overdose outcomes.

As part of the Surveillance: Streamlining and Presenting SUDORS Data through Automation and Perseverance session, Sarah Hargrove, MS, and Madison Merzke, BPH, presented “Automation of toxicology report entry into REDCap and other automated process improvements using R.” Hargrove explained, with most OD2A-funded agencies facing increased workloads due to increased drug overdose mortality, their goal was to identify strategies to work smarter and automate some of the data sources.

“The toxicology reports are all received from an online portal in PDF form and are very structured reports, so we believed it may be possible to fully automate these records,” she said.

Hargrove and Peter Rock, MPH, were part of the Surveillance: Using EMS Data to Inform Surveillance breakout session. Their presentation, “Enhancing SUDORS data collection with probabilistic joining of historic emergency medical encounter data: Impacts on completeness,” addressed using reports from the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services’ (KBEMS) Kentucky State Ambulance Reports Systems (KStARS) as supplemental data sources when looking at overdose fatalities. Rock said that, working with KIPRC’s OD2A morbidity partners, they determined that EMS historical records (including fatal event records) could be joined with death records, providing critical information in cases where other data sources are limited and further enhancing context in more complete cases.


“As a direct outcome, we will be actively mining EMS data to enhance fatal overdose surveillance prospectively,” Rock added.

Amelia Berry, Just Say Yes project director for the Franklin County (KY) Health Department, and KIPRC Drug Overdose Technical Assistance Center (DOTAC) program manager Genia McKee were part of the Prevention: Kentucky State and Local Partnerships to Prevent Overdoses session. Berry presented on “Just Say Yes: Early lessons learned in adapting the Icelandic Prevention Model (IPM) to reduce youth substance use in Kentucky,” while McKee presented “Tracking technical assistance to communities for program evaluation (impact, progress, usefulness).”

Berry noted how Franklin County and its partners were one of the first to adapt the IPM in the U.S, using a mini-grant from KIPRC through OD2A. She spoke of the challenges faced, how the program adapted, along with its successes and lessons learned.

McKee talked about how the DOTAC team tracks their community outreach and technical assistance activities with Kentucky communities using the data collection and survey program REDCap. She highlighted how this system lets them keep track of and evaluate what kinds of assistance and linkages communities find most useful for carrying out their drug overdose harm reduction and prevention initiatives.   

During the Surveillance: Building Data Automation and Integration: Real-Time Tools for Efficient Surveillance breakout session, Andrew Farrey, MPH, presented “Automating a syndromic surveillance-based spatiotemporal overdose alerting system in Kentucky.” The presentation was an overview of the processes that went into creating an automated syndromic surveillance-based drug overdose alert system using R and SaTScan to improve Kentucky’s response to anomalous increases in drug overdose patient encounters.

It also included R code walk-throughs to assist with automating syndromic surveillance application programming interface use, shapefile generation, and email-creation, an overview of how to schedule R scripts to run using the taskscheduleR R package, how to run SaTScan through R using batch mode, and how to use conditional logic in R to guide and log workflow outcomes. Farrey also briefly discussed how he selected KIPRC’s current drug overdose anomaly threshold based on the SaTScan “Recurrence Interval” statistic.

“SaTScan’s Recurrence Interval statistic is well suited for use as an anomaly threshold because it tells us how confident SaTScan is that a statistically significant cluster is legitimate,” said Farrey.  

Dana Quesinberry, JD, DPH, presented “Actionable data for state stakeholders: Case fatality rate estimates from SUDORS, DOSE, and EMS data” as part of Surveillance: Combining DOSE and SUDORS to Understand the Overdose Surveillance Landscape. She said the case fatality rate (CFR) presentation demonstrated a method to combine data from three data sources into a meaningful metric. 

“The use of the CFR metric allows the identification of different trends of overdose severity—or lethality­—and different intervention time points for prevention efforts,” said Quesinberry, who is the principal investigator for surveillance for the Kentucky Overdose Data to Action project at KIPRC.

As part of Evaluation: Quality Improvement in Overdose Prevention: Assessing and Improving OD2A Initiatives, Monica Clouse, MPH, CPH, presented “Using data to inform the selection of quality improvement initiatives for Kentucky’s Perinatal Quality Collaborative (KyPQC).” Clouse, KyPQC program manager, said the presentation described how relevant data revealed that substance use disorder in the perinatal setting is a major public health problem in Kentucky, highlighting the need to come together to combat this crisis.

KIPRC is a unique partnership between the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and the University of Kentucky College of Public Health. KIPRC serves both as an academic injury prevention research center and as the DPH’s designee or “bona fide agent” for statewide injury prevention and control.