Mathematica works closely with federal, state, and local governments; foundations; and research organizations to help combat the opioid epidemic from a variety of angles, including public health, child welfare, training and workforce development, disability, and criminal justice reform. We provide critical information to help policymakers, health care systems, and insurers measure and monitor opioid misuse and overdose deaths, facilitate access to effective treatments for opioid misuse, and evaluate strategies to prevent opioid use and related harms. To improve data quality and timeliness, our statisticians and data scientists identify innovative data sources for surveillance—such was municipal wastewater testing—that have cross-sector value. We do this by building dynamic dashboards (including our S.T.Op NextGen prototype) to identify high-risk populations and by developing predictive models with machine learning to anticipate opioid-related harms and identify regional hotspots of drug use, where interventions are needed most.

Mathematica also works with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to develop clinical quality measures that health plans, states, and federal agencies can use to monitor opioid overuse and prevent overdoses. To improve access to treatment for opioid use disorder, our behavioral health researchers leverage quantitative and qualitative methods to more holistically understand gaps in care, barriers to treatment, and populations with unmet needs. Mathematica works with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to gather detailed information on treatment facilities and the patients they serve by annually administering its National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. Finally, conduct rigorous evaluations of opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies—for example, as part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Evaluation of National Health Emergency grants—to identify those that are ready for replication.

Our Featured Work