University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Opioid Overdose Mortality Trends in Wisconsin, 2004-2019

Erin C. Nacev, MD, MPH; Marina C. Jenkins, BA; Calvin W. Lee, PharmD, MPH

WMJ. 2021;120(3):226-229.

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Background: Opioid-related mortality in Wisconsin by race differs from national trends: Black Wisconsinites are nearly twice as likely as Whites to die by opioid overdose. These trends warrant further study by other demographic factors on the state level.

Methods: We characterize trends in mortality due to opioid overdose in Wisconsin using CDC WONDER data for 2004-2019 by race, age, and sex. ICD-10 (International Classification of Disease, Tenth Revision) codes were selected per national guidelines for identifying opioid-related overdose deaths.

Results: Opioid overdose mortality increased 415% during the study period. Black or African American and American Indian or Alaska Native populations had consistently higher risk than White populations, with an older age distribution.

Conclusion: We identify inequities in opioid overdose mortality that have persisted over time in Wisconsin. Different age distributions by race may indicate different pathways to overdose and require further investigation to guide upstream mitigation strategies.

Acknowledgement: The authors would like to extend their sincere thanks to Patrick Remington, MD, MPH, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, for his guidance and instruction during their public health studies, during which the present work began.
Author Affiliations: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin (Nacev, Jenkins, Lee).
Corresponding Author: Erin Curtis Nacev, 750 Highland Ave, Madison, WI 53705; email
Funding/Support: None declared.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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