Jurisdictions used three key steps to identify prevention gaps using the results of the assessments. The first step was to identify key interventions needed to reduce opioid overdoses and injection-related bloodborne infections. The second step was to determine where these key interventions are currently available and accessible, and the third step was to analyze gaps between where interventions are needed and where they are available and accessible.
Many jurisdictions were able to identify prevention gaps using their assessment findings. Often, these states already had some services in place and sought to use the results as a way to identify the gaps within their states where services might not be adequately meeting the populations’ needs. The identified gaps could be related to rural and urban divides within the state, such as in frontier areas, or among particular population groups, such as tribal populations. States cited important aspects of the process to identify prevention gaps such as meeting at the local level with community planning groups to talk about resources. Several states credited their assessment results with enabling them to better have conversations about gaps and needs because they were able to move from citing anecdotal evidence to sharing data that better demonstrated their populations’ true vulnerabilities. Others were aware of the existing vulnerabilities but the assessment provided them a new voice, informed by data, that allowed them to make compelling cases for the need for expanded and new services. One state spoke about the impact the years of potential life lost (YPLL) measure had in understanding the human losses related to opioid misuse compared to just using traditional mortality rates.
New York Vulnerability Assessment Project
Information provided by Tarak Shrestha and Shu-Yin (John) Leung, NYSDOH
New York’s State Department of Health (NYSDOH) conducted their JVA to identify potential gaps in the services they already provide, and to inform programs for continuous quality improvement of services. New York State has well-established statewide comprehensive harm reduction programs that are overseen and coordinated by the Office of Drug User Health, AIDS Institute (AI) within the NYSDOH.