RES2021-04: VU Opioid Crisis and Transportation Investments in TN

To accomplish the objectives of the research, the research team anticipates a series of six (6) tasks as outlined below. (Task 1: Project Kickoff Meeting) The project team will meet with Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) leads and other key stakeholders (e.g., representatives from the Tennessee Department of Health) to discuss the project goals, timeline, tasks, etc. It will serve as a meeting to meet the various project team members and ensure everyone is on the same page for the path forward. (Task 2) Perform a Literature Review of Mobility Options Related to Providing Access to Treatment Facilities and General Healthcare Access. The literature review is envisioned to evaluate the benefits and limitations, associated costs, best practices, etc. for a range of transportation options to improve accessibility to treatment including, but not limited to the following: relying on personal vehicles if they are available (default in most rural areas), subsidized private ride-share services (e.g., Uber, Lyft), existing bus routes with subsidized private ride-sharing services for the last miles, existing bus routes with public on-demand "ride sharing" service for last miles, and full centralized bus service throughout the area. (Task 3) Perform needs assessment to identify the breadth and depth of limitations in access to treatment for residents of Tennessee. Data collection and spatial analysis will be performed to identify areas most in need of additional transportation services for mitigation of opioid dependencies. The research team will work with the TN Department of Health’s Office of Informatics and Analytics to obtain some of the data necessary for the project. The needs assessment will address the following points: identify locations of treatment facilities and pharmacies; identify extent of service of the various modes of mobility across the state to provide access to treatment facilities (i.e., where is transit available, where do ride hailing services exist, where is regional bus services provided, where is mobility on demand in existence or feasible, etc.); estimate the number of patients by county who may need access to treatment facilities. Data on fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses by drug type from the Tennessee Department of Health Data Briefs will be used. Estimate the potential need for investment based upon county-level profiles from the Tennessee Office of Economic and Community Development’s County Profiles and U.S. Census Bureau demographic and income data. Conduct an online survey of treatment facility staff members to verify and further inform data collection. This will require approval by the Internal Review Boards (IRB) at both universities for the survey instrument, recruitment procedures, and data management to minimize risk to respondents. The survey is anticipated to ask about the number of patients visiting the facilities, knowledge of the transportation modes used by patients to get to and from the facilities, transportation barriers observed by staff, and general facility information (i.e., treatment options offered), etc. (Task 4) Synthesize findings toward prioritization of mobility improvement options. The outcomes of the needs assessment (Task 3) coupled with the best practices from the literature review (Task 2) will inform priorities for mobility options and services opportunities for improvement to help patients obtain treatment. The research team will determine what mobility improvements are viable given existing infrastructure, programs, and other characteristics such as distance, frequency, and timing of service options. (Task 5) Comparative case study of mobility options for three different areas with need based upon findings in Task 4. Ideally, a diverse set of case studies will emerge including: (1) rural area far from major city, (2) rural close to a major city, and (3) urban. For these case studies, the team will construct an agent-based model (ABM) using R script or Python code and evaluate the costs and benefits for users of transportation improvements such as the following: expansion of existing local or regional transit routes to increase access to treatment facilities; potential for on-demand shuttle service to the transit lines (mobility on-demand either offered by the transit authority and/or rideshare services) to address last-mile issues; on-demand shuttle service or other Demand Response Transit (DRT) services including those offered in some rural areas (e.g., Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency’s Public Transit System); and mobile medication delivery services (i.e., similar to the New Jersey mobile medication units). (Task 6) Develop recommendations and create final report for TDOT. The final task for this project will be a synthesis report of findings from previous tasks with a recommendation to help TDOT prioritize investments in transportation options to mitigate the opioid epidemic in Tennessee. The final deliverable for the project will be a Final Report including the findings of the research and recommendations for prioritized funding for TDOT.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Tennessee Department of Transportation

    James K. Polk Building
    Fifth and Deaderick Street
    Nashville, TN  United States  37243-0349
  • Managing Organizations:

    Vanderbilt Center for Transportation Research (VECTOR)

    Box 1831, Station B
    Vanderbilt University
    Nashville, TN  United States  37235
  • Project Managers:

    Owens , Ashley

  • Performing Organizations:

    Vanderbilt Center for Transportation Research (VECTOR)

    Box 1831, Station B
    Vanderbilt University
    Nashville, TN  United States  37235
  • Principal Investigators:

    Camp, Janey

  • Start Date: 20200901
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220228
  • Actual Completion Date: 20230531
  • Source Data: Tennessee Department of Transporation

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01893311
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Tennessee Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: RES2021-14
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Sep 15 2023 2:49PM