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J Addict Nurs. 2016 Jul-Sep;27(3):160-79. doi: 10.1097/JAN.0000000000000132.

Combating Opioid Overdose With Public Access to Naloxone.

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Kathryn Dambrino Mitchell, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, and Leslie J. Higgins, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee.



Opioid overdose deaths have become an escalating epidemic in the United States. To combat this complex issue, naloxone distribution to the public has been initiated in many states as a harm reduction strategy. While supportive legislation develops and community programs expand, research- and policy-focused literature surrounding this timely topic require exploration, compilation, and analysis. The purpose of this systematic review is to identify trends in the current literature, gaps in the findings, nursing implications, and opportunities for further exploration.


Following a systematic approach, the keywords "naloxone" and "opioid overdose" were used to retrieve articles through the search engines Academic Search Premier, CINAHL Complete, MEDLINE Complete, PubMed, and Psychology and Behavior Sciences Collection.


In the 38 articles selected for the final review, six categories were discussed: global trends, U.S. overdose education programs with naloxone distribution, barriers to public access of naloxone, political opposition and support, financial impact, and recommendations. After reviewing the findings, gaps in the literature were examined, and nursing implications were acknowledged.


Although many authors have researched and discussed public naloxone distribution, a comprehensive review of the current evidence is useful and necessary to enhance future research, practice, and policy efforts. By discovering significant gaps in the literature and by recognizing opportunities for nursing practice, this literature review provides valuable input for healthcare professionals, public health officials, policymakers, and laypersons to better understand an ethically, politically, and socially complicated public health initiative.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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