The National Opioid Misuse Community Assessment Tool is the first ever interactive data visualization of national county-level drug overdose mortality rates that includes overlays for other sociodemographic and economic variables. Developed by NORC at the University of Chicago’s Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, the tool integrates overdose mortality rates for counties in each of the 50 states with social determinants of health data such as unemployment rate, poverty rate, and disability status. Users can compare county-level information to the rest of their state and to the nation, seeing a visual representation of how the data has changed over time. From the tool users can print and email county and state-level fact sheets highlighting overdose mortality data to aid in community assessment and response planning.
An earlier iteration of the tool developed by NORC in collaboration with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) used similar mapping technology to illustrate the impact of the opioid epidemic across counties in the Appalachian Region. The Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool continues to be updated and revised, providing a focused look at overdose mortality data within the Appalachian region.
In June, 2020, NORC launched an enhanced version of the mapping tool, which includes information on substance use and mental health resources, in addition to a county-level prosperity index. The prosperity index is calculated for each county in the United States using standardized values of 16 indicators belonging to one of four categories: Economic Risk, Economic Resilience, Social Risk, and Social Resilience. Risks experienced by a county are qualified or mitigated by its level of resilience, the strength of its protective factors. Taking both economic factors and social factors into consideration can help users develop and refine initiatives that seek to improve health and equity by reducing risk and increasing resilience.