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.

Understanding High Utilization of Unscheduled Care in Pregnant Women of Low Socioeconomic Status – Mehta et al


This week, we are discussing an article from the Journal Women’s Health Issues, entitled: Understanding High Utilization of Unscheduled Care in Pregnant Women of Low Socioeconomic Status, by Pooja Mehta, Tamala Carter, Cjloe Vinoya, Shreya Kangovi, and Sindhu Srinivas. Pooja Mehta, the lead author of the study, joins us for our conversation. 

You can find the interview with Dr. David Buck referenced in our conversation here.

Dr. Mehta is Director of Maternal & Women’s Health Policy for the Consortium for Health Care Transformation, and Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Systems Management and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, advising the Louisiana Department of Health and Medicaid Program.

Dr. Mehta’s interests are in the use of health care delivery innovation and community-engaged accountable care models to reduce reproductive health disparities, pregnancy-associated mortality, and low-value care, and to support patients with complex health and social needs. Her research has been supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

If you like the show, please rate and review us on itunes, google play, stitcher or your favorite podcasting app, which makes the show easier for others to find; and share us on social media. We tweet at @RoSpodcastand are on facebook at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Please drop us a line at audrey@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Listen at the end of the episode for a promo code to receive 15% off registration fees for an upcoming conference from the Harvard Center for Primary Care: Primary Care in 2020 – Future Challenges, Tips for Today.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.