Suicide-related care among patients who have experienced an opioid-involved overdose

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General hospital psychiatry


OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to describe suicide prevention care for individuals prescribed opioids or with opioid use disorder (OUD) and identify opportunities for improving this care.

METHODS: Adult patients (n = 65) from four health systems with an opioid-involved overdose and clinicians (n = 21) who had contact with similar patients completed 30-60-min semi-structured interviews. A community advisory board contributed to development of all procedures, and interpretation and summary of findings.

RESULTS: Patients were mostly female (59%), White (63%) and non-Hispanic (77%); 52 were prescribed opioids, 49% had diagnosed OUD, and 42% experienced an intentional opioid-involved overdose. Findings included: 1) when prescribed an opioid or treated for OUD, suicide risks were typically not discussed; 2) 35% of those with an intentional opioid-involved overdose and over 80% with an unintentional overdose reported no discussion of suicidal ideation when treated for the overdose; and 3) suicide-related follow-up care was uncommon among those with unintentional overdoses despite suicidal ideation being reported by >20%. Clinicians reported that when prescribing opioids or treating OUD, post-overdose suicide-related screening or counseling was not done routinely.

CONCLUSIONS: There were several opportunities to tailor suicide prevention care for patients who were treated for opioid-involved overdoses within health systems.

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