Understanding the Opioid Epidemic with Dan Ciccarone


The opioid epidemic is the greatest public health crisis of our time. It is estimated that about 64,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2016 – more than died in the Vietnam war or in 1 year at the height of the AIDs epidemic. Dan Ciccarone, our guest this week, and a Professor at UCSF School of Medicine, has spent his career trying to improve our understanding of substance use disorders and their health consequences. He and his collaborators look at this question both up-close, through ethnographic research in the community, and hours and hours of interviews with people who use injection drugs, and also by stepping back and sifting through huge datasets, looking at the larger epidemiologic and economic forces shaping the epidemic. He has spent years studying heroin specifically, and is currently the PI of the Heroin in Transitions study, which continues this vital work.

We talk specifically about a study led by one of his collaborators, Dr. Sarah Mars, “Every ‘Never’ I Ever Said Came True”: Transitions from opioid pills to heroin injecting; his group’s study of trends in hospitalizations and what that tells us about the epidemic in a 2013 Plos One publication, Intertwined Epidemics: National Demographic Trends in Hospitalizations for Heroin- and Opioid-Related Overdoses, 1993–2009. We also discuss his recent look at some of the larger factors influencing the epidemic with collaborators Nabarun Dasgupta and Leo Belitsky in Opioid Crisis: No Easy Fix to Its Social and Economic Determinants.

You can find more information about the book Dr. Ciccarone mentioned, Dreamland by Sam Quinones, here. And you can find the American Society for Addiction Medicine’s waiver training here.

If you enjoyed the show, please give us 5 stars wherever you listen. Tweet us your thoughts @RoSpodcast and leave us a message on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems. Or, you can email me at audreyATrospod.org. We’d love to hear from you, and thanks for listening.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. Photo courtesy of Dr. Ciccarone.

Andrew Bazemore – Community Vital Signs: Achieving Equity through Primary Care Means Checking More than Blood Pressure


“How do we get the data and the information necessary to address health?”

In this episode, another in a series with speakers from the 2017 second Starfield Summit, we talked with Dr. Andrew Bazemore about how primary care occupies the juncture between public health and health care. Andrew believes achieving health equity necessarily involves harnessing the democratization of data by pairing aggregated population health data to patient data in EHRs. We talked about his vision of Community Vital Signs and the challenges to getting there; the legacy of Sidney Kark, H. Jack Geiger, Gene Farley, and Curtis Hames and how they would drool at modern geographic information systems; how Community Vital Signs could help triage patients and help them achieve better health; and the potential for ecological fallacy in the work.

Andrew Bazemore is a practicing family physician and the Director of the Robert Graham Center, which he joined in 2005. He oversees and participates in the Center’s research with a particular interest in access to care for underserved populations, health workforce & training, and spatial analysis. He has authored over 150 peer-reviewed publications, while leading the Center’s emphasis on developing tools that empower primary care providers, leaders, and policymakers.  He also serves on the faculties of the Departments of Family Medicine at Georgetown University and Virginia Commonwealth University, and in the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University School of Public Health. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine(NAM), and appointed member of the federal Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME).

The Starfield Summit brought together leaders in primary care, clinicians, experts, advocates, patients, and community members in 2017 to collaborate in paving paths towards health equity and social accountability. The Summit was primarily sponsored by FMAHealth, OH&SU, and OCHIN.  Stay tuned in upcoming weeks for more speakers from the Starfield Summit.

If you enjoyed the show, please give us 5 stars wherever you listen. Tweet us your thoughts @RoSpodcast and leave us a message on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems. Or, you can email me at thomasATrospod.org. We’d love to hear from you, and thanks for listening.

This interview was edited lightly for length and clarity.