Spatial analysis of alcohol outlets and drug overdose in Baltimore neighborhoods
Elizabeth D. Nesoff, PhD MPH, is an Instructor of Epidemiology in the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology & Informatics at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and a Senior Scholar in the Penn Injury Science Center. She is a social epidemiologist focused on the intersection of substance use, the neighborhood environment, injury prevention, and health disparities. Her current research uses spatial analysis methods to investigate the relationship between modifiable neighborhood features and opioid overdose risk. Her research has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Dr. Nesoff completed postdoctoral training in substance use epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology. She holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Department of Health, Behavior and Society, an MPH from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, and a BA from Wellesley College.
BACKGROUND: Alcohol outlets have been associated with various forms of injury and may contribute to neighborhood disparities in drug overdose. Few studies have examined the associations between alcohol outlets and drug overdose. This study investigated whether alcohol outlets were associated with the neighborhood drug overdose rate.
METHODS: A cross-sectional ecological spatial analysis was conducted within census block groups in Baltimore City (n=653). Outcomes were counts of EMS calls for any drug overdose in 2015 (n=3,856). Exposures of interest were counts of alcohol outlets licensed for off-premise and on-premise consumption. Negative binomial regression was used to assess the relationship between outlet count and overdose rate, controlling for other neighborhood factors. Spatial autocorrelation was assessed and regression inference adjusted accordingly.
RESULTS: Each additional off-premise alcohol outlet was associated with a 16.6% increase in the neighborhood overdose rate (IRR=1.17, 95%CI=(1.11, 1.23)), adjusted for other neighborhood variables. On-premise alcohol outlets were not significantly associated with overdose rate when adjusting for off-premise alcohol outlets (IRR=1.01, 95% CI=(0.97, 1.06)).
CONCLUSION: This study provides preliminary public health evidence for informing policy decisions about alcohol outlet licensing and zoning. Alcohol outlets could be potential community partners for harm reduction strategies such as health communication in identifying overdose symptoms or Good Samaritan Laws.
Keywordsdrug overdose; alcohol outlets; neighborhoods
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