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Ohio University research published in latest edition of Journal of American Medicine Association

Ohio University research published in latest edition of Journal of American Medicine Association
From left to right: Dr. Trent Hall and father Orman Hall.

July 2019 study focused on years of life lost in Ohio due to drug overdose

Research first published by Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP) showing more than a million years of life were lost due to drug overdose in Ohio between 2009-2018, is now being featured in the Journal of the American Medicine Association (JAMA). 

The article, entitled “Assessment of Excess Mortality Associated with Drug Overdose in Ohio from 2009 to 2018,” was selected for publication in the April edition of JAMA Network Open — a worldwide, peer-reviewed, open access medical journal — and calls for years of life lost research in every state of the country to “better contextualize the current era of opioid misuse and overdose” and to have drug overdose deaths classified in its own category rather than being reported together with unintentional injuries in epidemiological research. 

The article notes that the high incidence of fatal drug overdose in Ohio makes the state an indicator of importance for the rest of the country. 

“JAMA is a highly respected journal and we are deeply grateful for the opportunity for our finding to be presented to their worldwide audience,” said Orman Hall, an executive in residence for Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions.

The study builds upon a report prepared for CHSP’s Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health that appeared online in July and was referenced in numerous media outlets.

Data in the study revealed 26,350 drug overdose deaths from 2009 to 2018 with opioids involved in nearly 80 percent of those deaths and a total of 1,026,821 years of life lost in Ohio. The groups with the highest Years of Life Lost (YLL) were white individuals, male and individuals between 30-39 years old. In 2017 alone, 187,006 years of life were lost in the state, lowering the mean lifespan by more than a year.

Hall said YLL is an important measure as total number of deaths can sometimes undervalue the fact that many people who die from overdose are young. He said YLL provides an opportunity to understand the magnitude and scope of the overdose problem.

Dr. Trent Hall is the primary author of the JAMA article with his father, Orman Hall, and Drs. Andrew Kolodny, Julie Teater and Ryan McGrath as co-authors. Trent Hall is a 2015 graduate Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and is currently an Addiction Medicine fellow at The Ohio State University.

Both Orman and Trent Hall have dedicated their lives to public health; they also enjoy spending time together hiking in the woods of various state parks in Ohio. The time away from the hustle and stressors of their careers allow for conversations about the weather or their shared interest in photography. Inevitably though, they begin brainstorming scientific concepts and ways to improve the health and wellbeing of society.

“Some of our best work has been done in Ohio state parks,” Trent Hall said.

One such discussion served as the basis for the use of a Years of Life Lost model to shine new light on the drug overdose epidemic. 

Trent Hall first used the Years of Life Lost concept during his residency training at the University of Michigan, where he authored research describing morbidity and mortality associated with traumatic spinal cord injuries. Like many other concepts, Trent Hall spoke about YLL with his father.

“He was talking about it and both of us realized that it would have important implications for some of the things we were both interested in and around addiction research,” Orman Hall said.

They started analyzing numbers from the Ohio Department of Health and came to the realization that more than 1 million years of life had been lost in a decade in Ohio. 

“My reaction was visceral,” Trent Hall said. “Each one of these million years is a tragedy for a human being, a family and community. These findings speak to the urgency of confronting overdose in Ohio.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with my dad on this important and sobering issue,” added Trent Hall. “I’m also grateful for the opportunity to get the word out in JAMA about the overdose epidemic in Ohio and the sad consequences it’s had for residents of our state. It is crucially important there be a sustained focus on reducing excess mortality due to drug overdose in Ohio and the United States. Every bit of attention we can get to this issue saves lives. This is not a problem that’s going to go away on its own.”