What Strategies Are Hospitals Adopting to Address the Opioid Epidemic? Evidence From a National Sample of Nonprofit Hospitals

Berkeley Franz, Cory E. Cronin, Jose A. Pagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Hospitals are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, seeing patients who overdose or have complicated infections, but the extent of services offered or whether services are evidence-based is not known. The objective of our study was to assess the extent to which nonprofit hospitals are addressing opioid abuse, a critical public health issue, through their community benefit work and to identify which evidence-based strategies they adopt. Methods: We reviewed community benefit documents from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018, for a sample (N = 446) of all nonprofit hospitals in the United States. We classified hospital opioid-related strategies into 9 categories. Using logistic regression, we predicted the likelihood of hospitals adopting various strategies to address opioid abuse. Results: Of the 446 nonprofit hospitals in our sample, 49.1% (n = 219) adopted ≥1 clinical strategy to address opioid use disorder in their community. Approximately one-quarter (26.5%; n = 118) of hospitals adopted a strategy related to treatment services for substance use disorder; 28.2% (n = 126) had ≥1 program focused on connecting patients to a primary care medical home, and 14.6% (n = 65) focused on caring for patients with opioid-related overdoses in the emergency department. We also identified factors that predicted involvement in programs that were less common than clinical strategies, but potentially effective, such as harm reduction and prescriber initiatives (both 6.3% of hospitals). Conclusions: Evidence-based prevention and treatment require strong collaboration between health care and community institutions at all levels. Effective policy interventions may exist to encourage various types and sizes of nonprofit hospitals to adopt evidence-based interventions to address opioid abuse in their communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-238
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Affordable Care Act
  • hospitals
  • opioids
  • policy
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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