Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sharing Overdose Data Across State Agencies to Inform Public Health Strategies: A Case Study

Data sharing and analysis are important components of coordinated and cost-effective public health strategies. However, legal and policy barriers have made data from different agencies difficult to share and analyze for policy development. 

To address a rise in overdose deaths, Maryland used an innovative and focused approach to bring together data on overdose decedents across multiple agencies. The effort was focused on developing discrete intervention points based on information yielded on decedents' lives, such as vulnerability upon release from incarceration. 

Key aspects of this approach included gubernatorial leadership, a unified commitment to data sharing across agencies with memoranda of understanding, and designation of a data management team. Preliminary results have yielded valuable insights and have helped inform policy. 

This process of navigating legal and privacy concerns in data sharing across multiple agencies may be applied to a variety of public health problems challenging health departments across the country.

Full PDF article at:

  • 1Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore, MD.
  • 2Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.
  • 3Office of the Governor of Maryland, Annapolis, MD.
  • 4Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Behavioral Health Administration, Catonsville, MD. 
  •  2016 Mar-Apr;131(2):258-63.

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