The Massachusetts Opioid Epidemic: Chapter 55 Report

Case Studies Research Health & healthcare Impact Massachusetts


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Author(s): Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Public Health
Publication Date: 08/31/2017

From the author(s): In the face of the emerging opioid epidemic, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts took an unprecedented deep dive into available data on opioid-related deaths to investigate the crisis. As part of a multi-faceted effort to combat the epidemic, Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2015 was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by  Governor Baker in August 2015. Led by the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Chapter 55 analysis involved 10 datasets from five different government agencies. In total, 29 groups from government, higher education, and the private sector provided information and expertise. This level of partnership is what makes the Chapter 55 report a milestone achievement in Massachusetts. Before this legislation was passed, such a comprehensive look at the opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth would not have been possible. In addition to providing significant insights into the opioid crisis by answering seven key questions, this project demonstrates how private and public organizations can collaborate to answer complex public-health questions. This model of cooperative data analysis has the potential to become the standard in Massachusetts and across the United States. The Chapter 55 project represents a process that should be continued, adapted, and refined as new public health challenges and new collaborators step forward.



Suggested Citation

Massachusetts Department of Public Health. An Assessment of Fatal and Non-Fatal Opioid Overdoses 2011-2015. Massachusetts Department of Public Health (Chapter 55 report), August 2017.


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