Knowledge of opioid overdose and attitudes to supply of take-home naloxone among people with chronic noncancer pain prescribed opioids

Suzanne Nielsen, Amy Peacock, Nicholas Lintzeris, Raimondo Bruno, Briony Larance, Louisa Degenhardt

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. Take-home naloxone (THN) is recommended in response to pharmaceutical opioid-related mortality. Some health professionals are reluctant to discuss THN for fear of causing offense. The aims of this study were to assess knowledge of opioid overdose and attitudes toward THN for opioid overdose reversal in people with chronic noncancer pain (CNCP). Design. Prospective cohort study. Setting. Australia, September to October 2015. Subjects. A subset of participants (N=208) from a cohort of people prescribed restricted opioids for CNCP. Methods. Questions added in the two-year telephone interviews examined knowledge of overdose symptoms and attitudes toward community supply of naloxone. Associations with overdose risk factors and naloxone supply eligibility criteria with attitudes toward naloxone were explored. Results. Fourteen percent reported ever experiencing opioid overdose symptoms. Participants correctly identified fewer than half of the overdose signs and symptoms. After receiving information on naloxone, most participants (60%), thought it was a "good" or "very good" idea. Few participants reported that they would be "a little" (N=21, 10%) or "very" offended (N=7, 3%) if their opioid prescriber offered them naloxone. Positive attitudes toward THN were associated with male gender (odds ratio [OR] 5 1.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.09-3.50), past year cannabis use (OR=2.52, 95% CI51.03-6.16), and past year nicotine use (OR=2.11, 95% CI51.14-3.91). Conclusions. Most participants had positive attitudes toward THN but low knowledge about opioid overdose symptoms. Strategies for educating patients and their caregivers on opioid toxicity are needed. THN may be best targeted toward those with risk factors in terms of overdose prevention and acceptability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-540
Number of pages8
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesic
  • Chronic noncancer pain
  • Naloxone
  • Opioid
  • Opioid-related disorders
  • Overdose

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