The goal of this study is to develop a quantitative workforce capacity score to better characterize shortage, maldistribution, and needed workforce resources to combat the growing opioid crisis in the United States.

The opioid crisis is a national public health emergency, and researchers are working tirelessly to identify strategies to maximize the response of an already stretched, maldistributed workforce. A quantitative score that identifies the behavioral health workforce’s capacity to prevent and treat opioid use disorders would greatly enhance our understanding as to how the distribution of opioid deaths relates to the provider system in the ten states this study will be working with, and what factors need to be modified to mitigate the crisis moving forward.

Workforce capacity scores will be developed using a number of indicators, including:

  • Supply data for active behavioral health providers
  • Provider location information
  • Need indicators, including population health information related to opioid use, prescribing rates, and death rates
  • Population information to determine shortage and maldistribution based on provider team to population ratios
  • Available opioid addiction treatment facilities

Results will be used to guide state and federal policy makers on how to best allocate resources to address the opioid emergency, and, more broadly, prompt the field to begin developing and adopting a broader measure of workforce capacity that can be used across behavioral health.