North America is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. Although take-home naloxone and other measures have been an effective strategy to reduce overdoses, many events are unwitnessed and mortality remains high amongst those using drugs alone. While wearable devices that can detect and alert others of an overdose are being developed, willingness of people who use drugs to wear such a device has not been described.
Drug using persons enrolled in a community-recruited cohort in Vancouver, Canada, were asked whether or not they would be willing to wear a device against their skin that would alert others in the event of an overdose. Logistic regression was used to identify factors independently associated with willingness to wear such a device.
Among the 1061 participants surveyed between December 2017 and May 2018, 576 (54.3%) were willing to wear an overdose detection device. Factors independently associated with willingness included ever having overdosed (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.39, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06–1.83), current methadone treatment (AOR = 1.86, 95% CI 1.45–2.40), female gender AOR = 1.41, 95% CI 1.09–1.84) and a history of chronic pain (AOR = 1.53, 95% CI 1.19–1.96). Whereas homelessness (AOR = 0.67, 95% CI 0.50–0.91) was negatively associated with willingness.
A high level of willingness to wear an overdose detection device was observed in this setting and a range of factors associated with overdose were positively associated with willingness. Since some factors, such as homelessness may be a barrier, further research is needed to investigate explanations for unwillingness and to evaluate real world acceptability of a wearable overdose detection devices as this technology becomes available.