Association of Opioid Use Disorder With 2016 Presidential Voting Patterns: Cross-sectional Study in New York State at Census Tract Level

JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2021 Apr 21;7(4):e23426. doi: 10.2196/23426.


BACKGROUND: Opioid overdose-related deaths have increased dramatically in recent years. Combating the opioid epidemic requires better understanding of the epidemiology of opioid poisoning (OP) and opioid use disorder (OUD).

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to discover geospatial patterns in nonmedical opioid use and its correlations with demographic features related to despair and economic hardship, most notably the US presidential voting patterns in 2016 at census tract level in New York State.

METHODS: This cross-sectional analysis used data from New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System claims data and the presidential voting results of 2016 in New York State from the Harvard Election Data Archive. We included 63,958 patients who had at least one OUD diagnosis between 2010 and 2016 and 36,004 patients with at least one OP diagnosis between 2012 and 2016. Geospatial mappings were created to compare areas of New York in OUD rates and presidential voting patterns. A multiple regression model examines the extent that certain factors explain OUD rate variation.

RESULTS: Several areas shared similar patterns of OUD rates and Republican vote: census tracts in western New York, central New York, and Suffolk County. The correlation between OUD rates and the Republican vote was .38 (P<.001). The regression model with census tract level of demographic and socioeconomic factors explains 30% of the variance in OUD rates, with disability and Republican vote as the most significant predictors.

CONCLUSIONS: At the census tract level, OUD rates were positively correlated with Republican support in the 2016 presidential election, disability, unemployment, and unmarried status. Socioeconomic and demographic despair-related features explain a large portion of the association between the Republican vote and OUD. Together, these findings underscore the importance of socioeconomic interventions in combating the opioid epidemic.

PMID:33881409 | DOI:10.2196/23426