Rates of opioid-related deaths have reached the level of national public health crisis in Canada. Community-based opioid overdose education and naloxone distribution (OEND) programs distribute naloxone to people at risk, and the emergency department (ED) may be an underutilized setting to deliver naloxone to these people. The goal of this study was to identify Canadian emergency physicians’ attitudes and perceived barriers to the implementation of take-home naloxone programs.

This was an anonymous Web-based survey of members of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians. Survey questions were developed by the research team and piloted for face validity and clarity. Two reminder emails were sent to non-responders at 2-week intervals. Respondent demographics were collected, and Likert scales were used to assess attitudes and barriers to the prescription of naloxone from the ED.

A total of 459 physicians responded. The majority of respondents were male (64%), worked in urban tertiary centres (58.3%), and lived in Ontario (50.6%). Overall, attitudes to OEND were strongly positive; 86% identified a willingness to prescribe naloxone from the ED. Perceived barriers included support for patient education (57%), access to follow-up (44%), and inadequate time (37%). In addition to people at risk of overdose, 77% of respondents identified that friends and family members may also benefit.

Canadian emergency physicians are willing to distribute take-home naloxone, but thoughtful systems are required to facilitate opioid OEND implementation. These data will inform the development of these programs, with emphasis on multidisciplinary training and education.

Lauren Lacroix, Lisa Thurgur, Aaron M. Orkin, Jeffrey J. Perry, Ian G. Stiell
Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine, January 2018