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RTI to use NIDA grant to study effects of intervention strategy on distribution of naloxone

Researchers will conduct a three-year trial across 48 syringe service programs (SSPs) in California

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, has been selected to receive a Health Services Research on Minority Health and Health Disparities Grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). With the $2.6 million grant, RTI will conduct a large-scale trial to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a strategy designed to increase and improve equitable naloxone distribution. 

Despite the availability of naloxone, an opioid antagonist, the number of opioid overdose deaths continues to surge in the U.S., especially among minority populations. In the past five years, opioid overdose mortality has increased 114% and 97% among Black and Latinx populations, respectively, compared to 32% among White populations. Opioid overdose fatalities are preventable with the timely administration of naloxone, but research shows that Black and Latinx people are 25% and 47% less likely to receive it than White populations.

Through the study, RTI will aim to determine if the systems analysis and improvement approach (SAIA) — a systems engineering approach for resource-limited settings — can optimize the delivery of naloxone within syringe service programs (SSPs).  

The research team, led by RTI’s Barrot Lambdin, Ph.D., will conduct a three-year randomized control trial across 48 SSPs throughout California and evaluate if use of the SAIA-Naloxone strategy improves the number of people receiving naloxone and the number of doses distributed. Researchers will also use data from the study to determine if the SAIA-Naloxone strategy had a particular impact on distribution to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) participants.

“This is such an important piece of work. Expanding naloxone distribution and improving equitable distribution throughout the U.S. is critical,” said Dr. Lambdin, the principal investigator of the study. “SAIA is incredibly promising as an approach, and this study will help us understand its impact.”

The project will build upon a previous RTI study in which the SAIA strategy was piloted in two SSPs in California. After implementation of the SAIA, there was a statistically significant increase in the weekly number of people receiving naloxone and the number of doses distributed from the SSPs.

The content presented in this release is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more about RTI’s research on opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment and harm reduction interventions