Framework for Advancing Epidemiological Criminology Research on Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

Chris Delcher, Amie Goodin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) document the dispensing of prescription medications that are designated as controlled substances by federal and state authorities. Previous research using state-operated PDMPs have typically evaluated epidemiological and/or health-related outcomes associated with use of controlled substances; however, PDMPs are accessed, used and impact on a variety of law enforcement applications. As such, there is potential for PDMPs as a research vehicle for the evaluation of programs and policies to capture controlled substance trends and outcomes that are more relevant for criminology. We propose extensions of the epidemiological-criminology framework to identify and classify potential PDMP research opportunities into five non-mutually exclusive categories: 1) effects on public health and safety outcomes, 2) data use for evaluation of criminology-explicit outcomes, 3) data use for emerging epidemiological-criminology applications, 4) data triangulation and integration, and 5) surveillance of “ecosystem” interactions. Applications and a review of relevant published literature are discussed for each of these categories in the context of highlighting opportunities for criminologists to increase research on PDMPs. Multi-disciplinary research partnerships are recommended to develop more robust study designs and to rigorously interpret and apply findings as reported from studies that use PDMP data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-681
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Criminal Justice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Southern Criminal Justice Association.


  • Controlled substances
  • Criminology
  • Epidemiology
  • Prescription drug monitoring programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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