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Health technology assessment

Overdose warning systems: a single technology assessment - mapping


We conducted a single health technology assessment.

Forside overdosevarsling.jpg

We conducted a single health technology assessment.

Downloadable as PDF. In Norwegian. Key messages in English.

About this publication

  • Year: 2022
  • By: Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Authors Muller AE, Borge TC.
  • ISBN (digital): 978-82-8406-300-3

Key message

The Norwegian Directorate of Health is currently considering the possibility of establishing a national warning system for overdoses. Such a system would connect data collection and risk analysis with planned methods to communicate warnings of particularly potent or dangerous drugs to users.

We conducted a single health technology assessment. Our first aim was to map the research assessing effectiveness of overdose warning systems. Our second aim was to map qualitative research on users’ experiences and perspectives on such systems. The systematic literature search identified 4493 references, and eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. The main findings were:

  • Studies reported heterogenous systems that met our definition, although none called these “overdose warning systems”. These systems added monitoring functions to existing harm reduction services, or added communication to existing monitoring systems. Communication was primarily to harm reduction groups, not users themselves.
  • It was not possible to measure the effect of these systems, largely because the systems explored were embedded in other harm reduction programs and were responding to overdose spikes.
  • Regarding user experiences and preferences of warnings, users reported preferring numbers and facts, receiving warnings from other users or from harm reduction groups, and compassionate and non-judgemental messaging.