The Georgia Health Policy Center is proud to announce the release of the book chapter, “Systems Thinking and the Opioid Epidemic in Georgia” in A Public Health Guide to Ending the Opioid Epidemic (Eds. Jay C. Butler and Michael R. Fraser).
The chapter uses systems thinking and mapping to illuminate the complex, interrelated factors driving this devastating public health crisis.
Many recognize the necessity of addressing both health care factors as well as upstream intervention points to make meaningful progress in combatting opioid misuse. A systems map enables visual identification of the cultural and social factors, as well as the structural aspects of the health care system that are driving the current epidemic.
“To address the opioid crisis, and to end it, requires an understanding of the system that perpetuates it and the strategic, concerted actions across multiple sectors that can be leveraged to lessen and prevent it,” explains Jane Branscomb, a senior research associate at the Georgia Health Policy Center and chapter coauthor. “Our Opioid Systems Map is a tool for policymakers to collectively study and develop insights toward coordinated interventions that can steer us out of the current crisis.”
The Opioid Systems Map highlights
- Groups that could be or are exposed to opioids
- Relationships between these groups
- Movement of people from one group to another.
Thus, the map makes visible the places where interventions (e.g., policy decisions, practice changes, or changes in access to services, stigma, or social determinants of health) can impact specific populations and, ultimately, the system as a whole.
The Georgia Health Policy Center developed the map in conjunction with Pontifex Consulting in 2016. Since then, the tool has been updated and applied in many settings. Policymakers, public health officials, and funders have used it to make decisions about immediate investments to address the opioid crisis through a common, enhanced understanding of the system that influences opioid use and where those investments could be leveraged.
GHPC coauthors for the chapter include: Brigitte Manteuffel, Leigh Alderman, and Karen Minyard