Degree Name

DrPH (Doctor of Public Health)


Public Health

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Robert Pack

Committee Members

Joel Hillhouse, Hadii Mamudu


Background: Understanding concentrated areas with high rates of opioid use disorder (OUD) allows for improved placement of Narcan access points through syringe services programs (SSPs). People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) have lower risk of contracting infectious diseases the closer they are to SSPs. Tennessee law prohibits SSPs within 2000ft of a school or park, impacting the placement of SSPs in non-urban areas. Testing factors related to SSP siting placement within a system dynamic model can better determine the relationship between PWID risk environment and SSP access and utility.

Methods: We identified areas of greatest need for harm reduction interventions within a non-urban Tennessee county with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Narcan administrations data (Aim 1). We then created a Google map to determine a theoretical ideal location for an SSP. We then applied the current legal restrictions to SSP placement to find the next-closest legal location (Aim 2). We then developed a theoretical system dynamic model of SSP access and utility and Risk Environment (Aim 3).

Results: We determined “EMS Zone 1” has a higher rate of EMS Narcan administrations than most EMS zones in the county and a higher rate compared to the whole county (Aim 1). We located a theoretical SSP location with shorter walk, drive, and public transportation times compared to the existing location. The closest legal SPP location still had an improvement in travel times but lacked other utility factors (Aim 2). Our theoretical model indicates that laws limiting SSP placement increase the distance PWID travel to SSPs. The distance of support services to SSP sites has a negative relationship with risk environment and to accessibility and utility of SSPs (Aim 3).

Conclusion: County-level geographic data is too crude to determine true “hot spots” of OUD. This new method using EMS data can provide entities a process for determining the best location for SSPs. Identifying measures of utility/accessibility for PWID can identify improved locations for SSPs but legal restrictions may lower utility/accessibility of SSPs especially for non-urban PWID. Current “Policy” or “Structural” level factors as described by the Social Ecological Model negatively impact PWID risk environment. Structural” or “Policy” and “Community” level interventions among state, city, and county governments have the highest potential to positively impact PWID risk environment.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.