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  1. Heavey, Sarah Cercone MPH
  2. Burstein, Gale MD, MPH
  3. Moore, Cheryll BSN
  4. Homish, Gregory G. PhD


Context: The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. Opioids killed more than 28 000 people in 2014, more than any year on record. One approach to addressing this growing epidemic is Opioid Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) training. Little is known about these programs' participants and their effectiveness across different demographic groups.


Objectives: To examine (1) whether knowledge and attitudes improved over the course of the training programs; (2) whether training outcomes differ by demographics; and (3) what overdose experiences do attendees have, and whether those experiences influence their knowledge and attitudes.


Design: A pre- and posttest survey was used to collect data on participants' demographics, overdose experiences, and opioid overdose knowledge and attitudes.


Setting: Surveys that took place at community-wide OEND programs were offered throughout Erie County, New York, during October and November 2015.


Participants: Community members who elected to attend the training programs, were at least 18 years of age, spoke English, and were willing and able to participate were included in the sample (N = 198).


Intervention: N/A.


Main Outcome Measure: The Opioid Overdose Knowledge and Attitudes Scale.


Results: Knowledge and attitude scores significantly improved from pre- to posttest assessments, increasing by 23.1% and 15.4%, respectively (Ps < .001). There were significant demographic differences in knowledge and attitudes at the pretest assessment, but these differences were ameliorated by the OEND program and did not persist at posttest assessment. In addition, 62.9% of participants had never experienced, witnessed, or known someone who had overdosed.


Conclusion: Results indicate that OEND programs are effective at improving knowledge and attitudes toward opioid overdose. These results indicate that OEND programs are not reaching the highest risk individuals but are instead attracting concerned family and significant others. Future programs should focus on reaching current opioid users, overdose victims, and their families to ensure OEND programs are reaching the target audiences.