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Training to improve responder attitudes and knowledge of opioid overdose

02 August 2021
Volume 13 · Issue 8



Opioid use is a major public health issue and opioid overdose requires rapid response with naloxone.


This study assesses the impact of a training session on the knowledge and attitudes of first responders and members of the community regarding opioid overdose recognition and naloxone use.


A training session was delivered to 2327 participants between July 2019 and March 2020. The study used a paired, pre-/post-analysis to quantify changes.


Nearly all (99.7%) participants completed a survey before and after training. Statistically significant improvements were observed in nearly all attitude and knowledge items.


An education session delivered to an educationally and professionally diverse group can improve trainees' knowledge and attitudes. There were some significant differences between sub-groups, particularly regarding their professional and educational background, and whether the location was urban or rural. Further study is needed to examine whether trainees would benefit from a course tailored toward their education and professional experience.

After completing this module, the paramedic will be able to:

The misuse of opioids is a worldwide crisis that affects public health and welfare (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021; World Health Organization (WHO), 2021). Opioid overdose requires rapid response with naloxone (Kim and Nelson, 2015). In 2017, opioid overdose deaths accounted for approximately two-thirds of all drug overdose deaths in the United States (Scholl et al, 2018; Wilson et al, 2020). Worldwide, about half a million deaths are attributable to drug use, of which more than 70% are related to opioids, with over 30% of those deaths caused by overdose (WHO, 2020).

In recent years, opioid overdose deaths have been driven primarily by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl (Scholl et al, 2018; Wilson et al, 2020). In 2017–2018, deaths involving all opioids, prescription opioids and heroin decreased by 2%, 14% and 4% respectively. However, deaths involving synthetic opioids increased by 10%, likely driven by illicitly manufactured fentanyl, including fentanyl analogues (Guy et al, 2017; Scholl et al, 2018; Hedegaard et al, 2020; O'Donnell et al, 2020; Wilson et al, 2020).

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