Objective To evaluate the impact of state supported overdose education and nasal naloxone distribution (OEND) programs on rates of opioid related death from overdose and acute care utilization in Massachusetts.
Design Interrupted time series analysis of opioid related overdose death and acute care utilization rates from 2002 to 2009 comparing community-year strata with high and low rates of OEND implementation to those with no implementation.
Setting 19 Massachusetts communities (geographically distinct cities and towns) with at least five fatal opioid overdoses in each of the years 2004 to 2006.
Participants OEND was implemented among opioid users at risk for overdose, social service agency staff, family, and friends of opioid users.
Intervention OEND programs equipped people at risk for overdose and bystanders with nasal naloxone rescue kits and trained them how to prevent, recognize, and respond to an overdose by engaging emergency medical services, providing rescue breathing, and delivering naloxone.
Main outcome measures Adjusted rate ratios for annual deaths related to opioid overdose and utilization of acute care hospitals.
Results Among these communities, OEND programs trained 2912 potential bystanders who reported 327 rescues. Both community-year strata with 1-100 enrollments per 100 000 population (adjusted rate ratio 0.73, 95% confidence interval 0.57 to 0.91) and community-year strata with greater than 100 enrollments per 100 000 population (0.54, 0.39 to 0.76) had significantly reduced adjusted rate ratios compared with communities with no implementation. Differences in rates of acute care hospital utilization were not significant.
Conclusions Opioid overdose death rates were reduced in communities where OEND was implemented. This study provides observational evidence that by training potential bystanders to prevent, recognize, and respond to opioid overdoses, OEND is an effective intervention.