BACKGROUND: Drug-related deaths globally are increasing year on year, with the largest proportion of these being opioid-related. The opioid antagonist naloxone distributed for take-home use ('Take-Home Naloxone (THN)') has been championed as one method of tackling this public health crisis, however to be effective it must be available at an opioid overdose. Ownership and carriage are therefore fundamental to THN success. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of ownership and carriage of THN internationally among people who use drugs (PWUD).
METHODS: NHS Scotland Journals, AMED, EMBASE, HMIC, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL Complete, PubMed, Cochrane Library, PROSPERO and grey literature were searched for articles which measured prevalence of THN ownership or carriage between 1996 and 2020. Ownership was defined as report of a personal supply of THN. Carriage was defined as the participant carrying THN on their person at time of data collection or reporting a frequency of how often they carry THN. Risk of bias was evaluated using the Joanna Briggs Checklist for Prevalence Studies.
RESULTS: Systematic search yielded 6363 papers, with ten eligible papers identified. Eight articles were included in ownership prevalence and five articles included for carriage prevalence, with an overlap of three studies between both measures. Pooled prevalence indicated moderate ownership levels (57%, CI 47-67%) but lower carriage levels (20%, CI 12-31%). Analysis was complicated by the limited number of available studies and lack of standardised terminology and measurement.
CONCLUSION: Understanding naloxone ownership and carriage globally is hampered by limited evidence and heterogeneity across studies. From the available data, prevalence of THN carriage overall appears low, despite moderate ownership. Given the variation across studies, future research should seek to utilise more standardised terminology and methods of measurement. Furthermore, services distributing THN must ensure the importance of regular carriage of naloxone is consistently emphasised.
- take-home naxolone
- drug-related deaths