Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Whitney Oliver

Thesis Professor Department

Health Services Management and Policy

Thesis Reader(s)

Taylor Dula


The purpose of this study is to closely analyze opioid overdose response efforts on county, state, and federal levels in designated Appalachian regions in order to better understand program methodology standards that ensure success in combating the opioid epidemic in Appalachia. All data sources used are publicly available and contain de-identifiable population health information. During research on this topic, how to define the opioid epidemic, identification of root causes, and existing response effort methodology were addressed. The existing response methods of county, state, and federal programs are expensive and hard to implement with limited success. While the complexity of response efforts can be beneficial to have many options for addressing the issue, it can also quickly muddle the most effective methods to success. The most notable programs that saw a quick decline in overdose death rates included those that coordinated between multiple types of entities such as schools, health departments, and correctional departments; as well as those offering harm reduction programs such as naloxone distribution. Other successful programs included re-training and re-education both with regional providers on appropriate opioid prescriptions and with the community on proper use, handling, and disposal of opioids. The most effective methods to reduce health disparities relating to the opioid epidemic in the Appalachian region are extensive collaboration, re-education, and harm reduction across the communities most deeply affected by the crisis. Any future response efforts should address these key success indicators.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Health Policy Commons