In the United States, opioid overdose mortality has increased by 200% over the last two decades. However, many of these deaths were preventable. Naloxone, also known as Naloxone, is a prescription drug that reverses opioid overdose and is continuously available to anyone in more than 40 states, including Pennsylvania, without a separate prescription from a healthcare provider. There is an ordering policy.
The public can carry naloxone in case they encounter someone who has experienced an opioid overdose. But how do you know if someone needs naloxone and how do you manage it? Healthcare providers are often trained to respond to these situations, and before COVID-19 began, public health organizations generally provided face-to-face training.
But how do you train and motivate more people to save lives from opioid overdose, especially in today’s socially distant world?
A group of interdisciplinary researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia School of Public Health have developed a virtual reality immersive video training aimed at doing just that. Their New Study-Recently Published Drug and alcohol prophylaxis -VR training has shown to be as effective as face-to-face training by generally providing both the knowledge and confidence needed to administer naloxone to save lives.
There is no overdose in hospitals and clinics. They are happening in our community: parks, libraries, and even our own homes. It is important to have the ability to save lives in the hands of front-line people in the immediate vicinity of individuals at risk of overdose. “
Nicolas Giordano, a former teacher at Penn’s Nursing School
Researchers have adapted 60 minutes of face-to-face training, the educational standard for healthcare providers, to 9 minutes of immersive virtual reality video. The interdisciplinary team then tested VR training for the general public at a free naloxone gift and training clinic hosted by the Philadelphia Ministry of Health at a local library. (The clinic was held in early 2019 and early 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic endangered such an event.)
Approximately one-third of the 94 participants received one-on-one face-to-face instruction on how to administer naloxone, while others saw VR training. After the initial training, participants answered training questions to determine if they had learned enough information to safely administer naloxone in the event of an opioid overdose.
Before leaving the library, all participants were given the opportunity to receive training that they did not receive first. Since VR training is still in test mode, researchers wanted to give all participants full access to their purpose: knowledge of how to save lives.
“We’re really happy that VR training works like face-to-face training,” says Natalie Herbert, who graduated from Penn’s Annenberg Communication School in 2020. “We did not intend to replace the training already provided by public health organizations. Rather, we would like to provide an alternative for those who are unable to participate in face-to-face training but are seeking knowledge. And we are excited to be able to do that. “
In addition to continuing to test VR training, researchers plan to make it available to the public through partnerships with libraries, public health organizations, and other local stakeholders. With a grant from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, the team will spread and promote VR training throughout the Philadelphia region. Now, more than ever, you can take advantage of the portable and immersive aspects of this VR rain to extend your access to overdose training. For more information on how to experience VR training available at home through Google Cardboard and other VR viewers, please visit: https: /
Herbert, N. , other (2020) Leverage immersive technology to increase access to opioid overdose reversal training in the community: results of a randomized controlled equivalence study. Drug and alcoholism. doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108160..
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