PROVIDENT: Development and Validation of a Machine Learning Model to Predict Neighborhood-level Overdose Risk in Rhode Island

Bennett Allen, Robert C. Schell, Victoria A. Jent, Maxwell Krieger, Claire Pratty, Benjamin D. Hallowell, William C. Goedel, Melissa Basta, Jesse L. Yedinak, Yu Li, Abigail R. Cartus, Brandon D.L. Marshall, Magdalena Cerdá, Jennifer Ahern, Daniel B. Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Drug overdose persists as a leading cause of death in the United States, but resources to address it remain limited. As a result, health authorities must consider where to allocate scarce resources within their jurisdictions. Machine learning offers a strategy to identify areas with increased future overdose risk to proactively allocate overdose prevention resources. This modeling study is embedded in a randomized trial to measure the effect of proactive resource allocation on statewide overdose rates in Rhode Island (RI). Methods: We used statewide data from RI from 2016 to 2020 to developanensemblemachinelearningmodelpredictingneighborhoodlevel fatal overdose risk. Our ensemble model integrated gradient boosting machine and super learner base models in a moving window framework to make predictions in 6-month intervals. Our performance target, developed a priori with the RI Department of Health, was to identify the 20% of RI neighborhoods containing at least 40% of statewide overdose deaths, including at least one neighborhood per municipality. The model was validated after trial launch. Results: Our model selected priority neighborhoods capturing 40.2% of statewide overdose deaths during the test periods and 44.1% of statewide overdose deaths during validation periods. Our ensemble outperformed the base models during the test periods and performed comparably to the best-performing base model during the validation periods. Conclusions: We demonstrated the capacity for machine learning models to predict neighborhood-level fatal overdose risk to a degree of accuracy suitable for practitioners. Jurisdictions may consider predictive modeling as a tool to guide allocation of scarce resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-240
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024


  • Gradient boosting machine
  • Machine learning
  • Opioid
  • Overdose
  • Rhode Island
  • Super learner

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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