Opioid overdose experience, risk behaviors, and knowledge in drug users from a rural versus an urban setting

Kelly E. Dunn, Frederick S. Barrett, Claudia Yepez-Laubach, Andrew C. Meyer, Bryce J. Hruska, Kathy Petrush, Suzan Berman, Stacey C. Sigmon, Michael Fingerhood, George E. Bigelow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Background Opioid use is highly prevalent in the United States and there has been an increased incidence in the rate of opioid-related overdose. While evidence suggests that there are substantial differences in opioid use among rural versus urban settings, the rate of overdose and corresponding frequency of opioid overdose risk behaviors and overdose knowledge between rural and urban settings have not been examined. Methods Individuals with opioid use disorder from rural (N = 98) and urban (N = 247) settings completed a self-report survey regarding their lifetime history of overdose and overdose risk behaviors. Participants also completed the Brief Opioid Overdose Knowledge (BOOK) questionnaire, a 12-item self-report measure of opioid overdose knowledge. Results Overall, 35.6% of participants had experienced an overdose, and prevalence of overdose was significantly higher (p < .01) among rural (45.9%) vs. urban (31.6%) participants, though fewer rural participants reported past 30-day risk behaviors. There were few differences observed between the subset of rural and urban participants who had experienced an overdose, and fewer rural participants with a history of overdose reported past 30-day risk behaviors. Both rural and urban participants performed poorly on the BOOK, though the percent of correct responses was lowest among rural participants with a history of overdose. Conclusion Results demonstrate higher rates of overdose among rural opioid users, though rural participants were less likely to report recent risk behaviors. Results also suggest that knowledge regarding key factors related to opioid overdose is severely lacking, particularly among rural opioid users, which could be a potential target for future intervention efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016



  • Book
  • Naloxone
  • Opioid
  • Opioid overdose
  • Opioid use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Dunn, K. E., Barrett, F. S., Yepez-Laubach, C., Meyer, A. C., Hruska, B. J., Petrush, K., Berman, S., Sigmon, S. C., Fingerhood, M., & Bigelow, G. E. (2016). Opioid overdose experience, risk behaviors, and knowledge in drug users from a rural versus an urban setting. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 71, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2016.08.006