Leveraging immersive technology to expand access to opioid overdose reversal training in community settings: Results from a randomized controlled equivalence trial

Natalie Herbert, Sydney Axson, Leeann Siegel, Kyle Cassidy, Ann Marie Hoyt-Brennan, Clare Whitney, Allison Herens, Nicholas A. Giordano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Immersive video (e.g. virtual reality) poses a promising and engaging alternative to standard in-person trainings and can potentially increase access to evidence-based opioid overdose prevention programs (OOPPs). Therefore, the objective of this equivalence study was to test whether the immersive video OOPP was equivalent to a standard in-person OOPP for changes in opioid overdose knowledge and attitudes. Methods: A team of nurses and communication researchers developed a 9-minute immersive video OOPP. To test whether this immersive video OOPP (treatment) demonstrated equivalent gains in opioid overdose response knowledge and attitudes as in-person OOPPs (standard of care control), researchers deployed a two-day field experiment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. In this equivalence trial, 9 libraries were randomly assigned to offer treatment or control OOPP to community members attending naloxone giveaway events. In this equivalence design, a difference between treatment and control groups pre- to post-training scores within -1.0 to 1.0 supports equivalence between the trainings. Results: Results demonstrate participants (N = 94) exposed to the immersive video OOPP had equivalent improvements on posttest knowledge (β=-0.18, p =.61) and more favorable attitudes about responding to an opioid overdose (β=0.26, p =.02) than those exposed to the standard OOPP. However, these minor differences in knowledge and attitudes were within the equivalence interval indicating that the immersive video OOPP remained equivalently effective for community members. Conclusions: Community partnerships, like those between public health departments and libraries, can provide opportunities for deploying novel immersive video OOPP that, alongside standard offerings, can strengthen community response to the opioid crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108160
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

Cite this