Opioid overdose prevention training with naloxone, an adjunct to basic life support training for first-year medical students

Noah Berland, Aaron D. Fox, Babak Tofighi, Kathleen Hanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Background: Opioid overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. This problem stems from both licit and illicit opioid use. Prescribing opioids, recognizing risky use, and initiating prevention, including opioid overdose prevention training (OOPT), are key roles physicians play. The American Heart Association (AHA) modified their basic life support (BLS) algorithms to consider naloxone in high-risk populations and when a pulse is appreciated; however, the AHA did not provide OOPT. The authors' intervention filled this training deficiency by teaching medical students opioid overdose resuscitation with a Train-the-Trainer model as part of mandatory BLS training. Methods: The authors introduced OOPT, following a Train-the-Trainer model, into the required basic life support (BLS) training for first-year medical students at a single medical school in a large urban area. The authors administered pre- and post-evaluations to assess the effects of the training on opioid overdose knowledge, self-reported preparedness to respond to opioid overdoses, and attitudes towards patients with substance use disorders (SUDs). Results: In the fall 2014, 120 first-year medical students received OOPT. Seventy-three students completed both pre- and posttraining evaluations. Improvements in knowledge about and preparedness to respond to opioid overdoses were statistically significant (P < .01) and large (Cohen's D = 2.70 and Cohen's D = 2.10, respectively). There was no statistically significant change in attitudes toward patients with SUDs. Conclusions: The authors demonstrated the effectiveness of OOPT as an adjunct to BLS in increasing knowledge about and preparedness to respond to opioid overdoses; improving attitudes toward patients with SUDs likely requires additional intervention. The authors will characterize knowledge and preparedness durability, program sustainability, and long-term changes in attitudes in future evaluations. These results support dissemination of OOPT as a part of BLS training for all medical students, and potentially all BLS providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalSubstance Abuse
StateAccepted/In press - Feb 8 2017



  • BLS
  • bystander naloxone
  • CPR
  • medical education
  • naloxone
  • Opioid overdose
  • opioid overdose prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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