Implementation of Interventions and Policies on Opioids and Awareness of Opioid-Related Harms in Canada: A Multistage Mixed Methods Descriptive Study

Camille Goyer, Genaro Castillon, Yola Moride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In Canada, interventions and policies have been implemented to minimize the risk of opioid-related harms. This mixed methods study aimed at describing trends over time in implementation, as well as in awareness and health outcomes. For implementation, we conducted a scoping review to identify opioids interventions and policies implemented in Canada between 1 January 2016 and 15 November 2019. Awareness was measured through a descriptive analysis of opioid-related harm cases reported by consumers and health care professionals (HCPs) to the national spontaneous reporting system and of social media coverage, while health outcome consisted of opioid-related deaths recorded in the coroner’s reports database of the province of Quebec, Canada. Trends over time in implementation of interventions were compared to trends in awareness and opioid-related deaths, without implying causality. There were 413 national or provincial interventions on opioids implemented over the study period, with a four-fold increase in 2016. The most common (31.5%) was harm reduction strategies, such as naloxone distribution. The reporting rate of opioid-related harms ranged between 0.1 and 0.2 per 100,000 persons with no observed time trend. Compared to 2015, the number of social media posts increased in 2016 by 35.4% (Reddit), 329.0% (Facebook), and 381.5% (Twitter). Between 2016 and 2019, there was a slight decrease in the number of opioid-related deaths recorded in the coroner’s database. Overall, the increase in the number of policies did not see a parallel increase in spontaneous reports of opioid-related harms as an indicator of consumer or HCP awareness. Conversely, the dramatic increase in social media coverage was consistent with heightened public awareness. Although no inferences of causality were made in this study, the decrease in opioid-related deaths observed in the recent years may indicate a potential effectiveness of interventions and policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5122
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • evaluation framework
  • opioid use disorders
  • opioid-related harms
  • opioids
  • policies
  • risk minimization measures
  • social media
  • spontaneous reporting


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