Lucas Hill: Operation Naloxone

Operation Naloxone: Overdose Prevention Service Learning for Student Pharmacists

by Lucas G. Hill, PharmD, BCPS, BCAP 


Pharmacy students at UT Austin received opioid overdose prevention and response training from a clinical pharmacist. They were then invited to lead short, interactive trainings for other members of the campus community. Free doses of naloxone, the opioid antidote, were distributed during these trainings. Follow-up surveys indicated that pharmacy students who led community trainings retained more overdose-related knowledge than those who did not. Collectively, pharmacy students exhibited extremely progressive views regarding harm reduction interventions with a majority supporting legalization of supervised injection facilities.


Background and purpose

A service learning program for student pharmacists was developed to train other university students to respond effectively to opioid overdoses with naloxone. Assessments were analyzed to determine the effect of program participation on student pharmacists’ overdose-related knowledge retention and harm reduction attitudes.

Educational activity and setting

Student pharmacists were invited to attend a 90-min train-the-trainer seminar to obtain foundational knowledge regarding opioid overdose risk, symptoms, and response. Attendees were eligible to participate in a series of 10 community outreach events to educate university students. These two-hour events included a 30-min team huddle, 60-min workshop, and 30-min team debrief. Student pharmacists were asked to complete a follow-up assessment to evaluate knowledge retention and harm reduction attitudes.

Findings and discussion

Responses from students who participated in community outreach events (intervention) were compared to those who only attended the train-the-trainer seminar (control). A total of 116 subjects attended a train-the-trainer seminar and 94 completed the follow-up assessment. Thirty-six subjects voluntarily participated in at least one community outreach event while 58 did not participate. The intervention group demonstrated superior knowledge retention compared to the control group. Cumulative harm reduction attitudes did not differ between groups. The intervention group exhibited more positive attitudes regarding naloxone access for individuals who use illicit opioids.

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