Factors associated with opioid-involved overdose among previously incarcerated people in the U.S.: A community engaged narrative review.


We first conducted a narrative review of the published literature. A search was performed using PubMed and APA PsycInfo. We then convened two expert panels consisting of people with lived experience and people who work with people who were previously incarcerated. Experts were asked to evaluate the literature derived factors for completeness and add factors that were not identified. Finally, we categorized factors as either intermediary or structural according to the World Health Organization's Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Framework.

We identified 13 papers that met our inclusion criteria for the narrative review. Within these 13 papers, we identified 22 relevant factors for their role in the relationship between overdose and people with a history of incarceration, 16 were risk factors and six were protective factors. Five of these were structural factors (three risk and two protective) and 17 were intermediary factors (13 risk and four protective). The expert panels identified 21 additional factors, 10 of which were structural (six risk and four protective) and 11 of which were intermediary (eight risk and three protective).

People with a history of incarceration are at high risk for opioid overdose. A variety of factors contribute to this elevated risk though our understanding of these factors is deficient. Research to identify risk and protective factors for overdose is often conducted using administrative data or researcher-derived surveys and without explicit input from people with lived experience. We aimed to understand the scope of U.S. research on factors associated with opioid overdose among previously incarcerated people. We did this by conducting a narrative review of the literature and convening expert panels of people with lived experience. We then categorized these factors using a social determinants of health framework to help contextualize our findings.

This narrative review along with expert panels demonstrates a gap in the published literature regarding factors associated with overdose among people who were previously incarcerated. Additionally, this review highlights a substantial gap with regard to the types of factors that are typically identified. Incorporating voices of people with lived experience is crucial to our understanding of overdose in this at-risk population.

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