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Prescription drug safe storage practices in Arizona tribal communities


This paper provides an overview of an opioid poisoning prevention pilot project conducted in several American Indian/Alaskan Native communities using an applied public health approach. The intent of the project was to identify a prescription medication safeguarding option for use in the home environment. The authors engaged the target population to obtain their buy-in to select an intervention that was acceptable and appropriate for their needs. Focus groups and key informant interviews conducted in several tribal communities resulted in the selection of a heavy-duty, lockable storage box as the intervention. Through community-based partnerships, 55 boxes were installed in participating households. Along with the box, participants also received education on safe medication storage and disposal. At baseline, only 1% of the participants reported storing their medication securely. During a 60-day follow-up visit, 95% of the observed boxes were being used to store medications. Also at baseline, 31% of the participants reported a history of lost or stolen medications. There were no reported lost or stolen medications during the 60-day project period among the participants. During the follow-up visits, project staff also found the boxes being used to store other items valuable to the participants. Reportedly, having their medication and other valuables secured in one location provided a heightened feeling of security. Since the completion of this pilot project, several organisations and entities have replicated it in their communities.

  • behaviour change
  • education
  • equipment
  • public health
  • poisoning
  • formative evaluation

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