Rural risk environments, opioid-related overdose, and infectious diseases


‘Risk environment’ frameworks model aspects of drug-related harm based on empirical and theoretical work about social, political and epidemiologic interactions between individuals (or groups) and place. We study social, economic, policy, and physical aspects of the risk environment in Illinois, with a focus on rural Southern Illinois. We develop risk regions of analysis for further study, and support the PI and ETHIC team in providing a thorough spatiotemporal scan of disease and vulnerabilities to help guide community involvement and intervention targeting.

Both risk environment vulnerabilities and health outcomes are multifaceted and spatially heterogeneous. Geographically diverse rural environments present unique challenges to understanding risk environments and associated health outcomes. Some areas with high vulnerability may have mitigating protective factors that reduce poor outcomes. Future research may require more localized analysis, and must better address methodological challenges in sparsely populated locations.

Funding: UG3, UH3 - Ending transmission of HIV, HCV, and STDs and overdose in rural communities of people who inject drugs (ETHIC), NIH.

PI: Mai Tuyet Pho.

My role: Co-I, Spatial Epidemiologist

Collaborators: Yen-Tyng Chen, Sam Joyce (UChicago RA), Kali Defever, Colleen McLuckie, Sam Friedman, Mai Tuyet Pho, Cara Bergo

  • University of Chicago, Center for Spatial Data Science
  • University of Chicago Medicine, Department of Infectious Disease
  • University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health
  • National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.