This post was written by Lydia Ulrich ’16
When Professor Ellen Kraly approached me last fall and asked if I would be interested in producing geographic information systems (GIS) maps for Dr. Richard Brown, a psychiatrist at Bassett Medical Center, I had no idea that nearly a year later this independent study would turn in to the opportunity to work directly with Bassett Research Institute. My field school fellowship arose as an opportunity to continue the efforts of this independent study project with Dr. Brown and Professor Kraly as my advisors and Bassett Research Institute as my community partner for the summer. Bassett Research Institute is part of the Bassett Healthcare Network and is located at Bassett Medical Center, an acute care inpatient teaching facility in Cooperstown, New York. Bassett Healthcare Network is an integrated health care system that includes six corporate affiliated hospitals and a regional network that provides preventive, primary and specialty outpatient care at 28 rural health clinics and 19 school-based health centers in nine counties across Upstate New York.
My work this summer has evolved to focus on contributing to several ongoing projects at the Research Institute. My day-to-day work usually consists of collecting and analyzing data, mapping this data using GIS technology, writing literature reviews, and attending general research meetings. My primary role is helping to write a research paper on the patterns of opiate-related morbidity and mortality in New York State that will hopefully be published in an academic journal. The paper’s focus is whether or not prescription monitoring programs (PMPs) have had an impact on opiate-related morbidity and overdoses in New York State. Specifically, we want to see if New York State’s Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing (I-STOP) law is an effective PMP intervention. We have used GIS and interrupted time-series analyses to examine the impact of I-STOP, which was officially implemented in August of 2012. The paper will address the patterns of prescription opioid abuse compared to heroin abuse, while also emphasizing issues surrounding lack of treatment options in rural areas and areas where opiate abuse is particularly high. My main contributions to this paper will be writing the introduction, and helping write the methods, results and conclusions sections of the paper as well as providing GIS maps to supplement the time-series analysis.
In addition to the paper, I am currently helping prepare a literature review and collect primary data for a study looking into the potential use of search engine queries to predict the spread of opiate abuse to certain regions. I have also created maps for research projects on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) showing the prevalence of NAS in New York State. The Research Institute is currently conducting a chart review to study predictors of length of stay and success of different types of treatment for babies diagnosed with NAS. For another aspect of the opiate project I created maps to show spatial patterns of admissions for the treatment of opiate abuse in the past 15 years. The hope is that the maps from all of these projects will incorporate both statistical and geographical analyses that help to explain or enhance the raw data and that can ultimately be used in the papers as supplementary visuals.
It has been really exciting to work with people who are experts in their fields and are so passionate about the research Bassett is doing. Finishing this paper will be a big accomplishment because it has direct implications for the future of the prevention and treatment of opiate abuse. Serving as a bridge between Bassett and Colgate, the Upstate Institute has given me access to invaluable resources and individuals from both Bassett and Colgate this summer. This is a strong collaboration especially because both institutions share the goal of doing research that has a positive impact on regional and local communities and is committed to utilizing its research efforts to better the communities of Upstate New York.