Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
The NIHCM Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of America's health care system.
  • Data Insights

    Mental illness is increasingly common among young people but many are not receiving the treatment that they need. This Data Insights explores current trends in youth mental health and opportunities to improve outcomes.

    Learn More
  • Grants

    NIHCM Foundation has awarded 14 grants for health care journalism including investigative reporting and educational opportunities for reporters.

    Press Release All Journalism Grantees
  • Awards

    NIHCM Foundation is pleased to welcome Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Dr. Aaron E. Carroll and Eliza Barclay to the independent judges panel of the NIHCM Awards. All three bring considerable expertise to the prestigious panel.

    Press Release Judges Panels The NIHCM Awards
  • Grants

    NIHCM Foundation has awarded over $500,000 in grants to support nine investigator-initiated research studies.

    Press Release All Research Grantees
  • Briefing

    NIHCM Foundation led a briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss social determinants of health and the opioid crisis with Founding President and CEO Nancy Chockley, former CMS Administrator Don Berwick, Curtis Barnett of Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, Craig Samitt of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and Grant Baldwin from the CDC.

    Press Release Watch the Video
  • Advisory Board

    NIHCM Foundation is pleased to welcome Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Sherry Glied, PhD, and Katherine Baicker, PhD, to its distinguished Advisory Board. Their ideas and insights will advance NIHCM's mission to improve health care for millions of Americans.

    Press Release Advisory Board
  • News

    NIHCM welcomed Secretary Azar to a meeting in March to discuss efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services to transform health care by lowering costs and improving value for patients.

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Events

February 24, 2020
Teen-Mental-Health-webinar-graphic

This webinar explored cross-sector strategies to prevent teen substance and suicide, as well as the role of school-based health services in providing behavioral health care.

January 27, 2020
SDOH-webinar-graphic-012720

This webinar explored public and private sector efforts to improve health outcomes by addressing social determinants of health.

In the News

February 2020
Population Health Spotlight
newsletter-alcohol-deaths-v2

Sources and Burden of Opioid Deaths

May 2019


About the Data Insights

This infographic depicts how the opioid crisis intensified from 2016 to 2017 despite public and private sector efforts to prevent addiction and increase access to treatment.

Overdose deaths from heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl increased markedly and hit young adults and men particularly hard. Though some think of the opioid crisis as affecting mainly rural America, per capita death rates from opioids were much higher in urban areas.

Notes on Data and Methods

All data on opioid overdose deaths were derived from the multiple cause-of-death files of the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) data system maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The information was last updated in December 2018 to reflect data through 2017.

Deaths were identified as due to an opioid overdose if the ICD-10 code for the underlying cause of death was X40-X44 (accidental poisoning), X60-X64 (intentional self-poisoning) or Y10-14 (poisoning of undetermined intent) and if any of the multiple cause of death codes indicated that the type of substance involved in the poisoning was T40.1 (heroin), T40.2 (natural and semi-synthetic opioids), T40.3 (methadone) or T40.4 (synthetic opioids other than methadone). Because a single death may involve multiple substances, summing across the number of deaths involving each substance will overestimate the number of opioid-related overdoses.

Following the classification scheme adopted by the CDC, methadone and natural and semi-synthetic opioids (e.g., oxycodone and hydrocodone) were grouped into a single category encompassing commonly prescribed opioids. Synthetic opioids other than methadone include substances such as tramadol and fentanyl (both pharmaceutically manufactured and illicitly manufactured).

Panel 1 (download)

In 2017, there were 46,298 overdose deaths involving one or more of the opioids described above, or one death every 11.4 minutes.

Panel 2 (download)

Of these deaths in 2017, 15,456 involved heroin, 28,402 involved synthetic opioids other than methadone, and 17,003 involved commonly prescribed opioids (some deaths were classified into more than one category). Comparable figures for the years 2002, 2007 and 2012 were, respectively:

  • for heroin – 2,088; 2,393; and 5,904
  • for synthetic opioids – 1,293; 2,209; and 2,623
  • for commonly prescribed opioids – 6,468; 12,777; and 14,223

Panel 3 (download)

In 2017, 4,882 (31.6 percent) of all overdose deaths involving heroin and 8,805 (31.0 percent) of all overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids occurred among individuals aged from 25 to 34, whereas 4,234 (24.9 percent) of all overdose deaths involving commonly prescribed opioids occurred for individuals aged 45 to 54.

Panel 4 (download)

In 2017, 31,519 (68.1 percent) of the 46,298 opioid-related deaths occurred among men.

Panel 5 (download)

Compared to the 51-to-49 percent male-female split for deaths from all causes, men were significantly more likely than women to die from opioids, regardless of the substance involved. The starkest differences, however, were seen for deaths involving heroin and/or synthetic opioids. Of the 15,456 deaths involving heroin, 11,578 (74.9 percent) occurred among men. Similarly, of the 28,402 deaths involving synthetic opioids, 20,482 (72.1 percent) occurred among men. For commonly prescribed opioids, males accounted for 9,858 of the 17,003 deaths (58.0 percent).

Panel 6 (download)

The urban/rural breakdown of opioid deaths relied on the National Center for Health Statistics’ 2013 system for classifying counties as urban or rural according to whether the county was in a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or not. Deaths were assigned to location based on the county of the person’s legal residence.

In 2017, there were 41,168 opioid overdose deaths among residents of urban areas, relative to the total urban population of 279.6 million, yielding a death rate of 14.72 deaths per 100,000 people. Comparable figures in rural areas were 5,130 overdose deaths relative to a population of 46.1 million, for a rate of 11.13 deaths per 100,000. Thus, the average urban resident was 32 percent more likely than the average rural resident to perish from an opioid overdose.

Comparable figures by type of opioid were:

  • Heroin – 14,274 urban deaths and 1,182 rural deaths, translating to death rates of 5.10 deaths per 100,000 urban residents and 2.56 deaths per 100,000 rural residents, or a 99 percent higher likelihood of dying from a heroin-involved overdose among urban residents.
  • Synthetic Opioids – 25,611 urban deaths (9.16 per 100,000 urban residents) vs. 2,791 rural deaths (6.06 per 100,000 rural residents) for a 51 percent higher rate in urban areas.
  • Commonly Prescribed Opioids – 14,630 urban deaths (5.23 per 100,000 urban residents) vs. 2,373 rural deaths (5.15 per 100,000 rural residents), or a 2 percent higher rate in urban counties.

This Data Insights illustrates the growing intensity of the opioid crisis using CDC data through 2017.

Events

February 24, 2020
Teen-Mental-Health-webinar-graphic

This webinar explored cross-sector strategies to prevent teen substance and suicide, as well as the role of school-based health services in providing behavioral health care.

January 27, 2020
SDOH-webinar-graphic-012720

This webinar explored public and private sector efforts to improve health outcomes by addressing social determinants of health.

In the News

February 2020
Population Health Spotlight
newsletter-alcohol-deaths-v2

Grants

Journalism GrantsJournalism Grant Program

NIHCM has announced its 2019 journalism grantees. We will begin accepting Letters of Inquiry for the 2020-2021 funding cycle in late spring 2020.

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NYTUpshotLogo

Investigator-Initiated Research Grant Program

NIHCM has announced its 2019 research grantees. We will begin accepting Letters of Inquiry for the 2020-2021 funding cycle in late spring 2020.

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Awards

The 26th Annual Research and Journalism Awards

Winners Announcment 2018 1

We are no longer accepting entries for this year's awards cycle. Winners and finalists will be recognized at a dinner in Washington, D.C., in May 2020.

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