Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

SDR 21-089 – HSR Study

SDR 21-089
Strategies to improve Utilization of Post-overdose Evidence-based Risk mitigation among Non-fatal Overdoses in VA (SUPER NOVA)
Elizabeth Marie Oliva, PhD
VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA
Palo Alto, CA
Funding Period: February 2023 - January 2027


Background: Drug overdose is a leading cause of death, accounting for 70,630 deaths in the United States (US) in 20193. The majority of drug overdoses involve opioids, and opioid-involved stimulant deaths are rising with 3 out of every 4 cocaine-related deaths involving opioids and 53% of psychostimulant-related deaths involving opioids7. Drug overdose mortality among Veterans mirror these trends5,6. In Massachusetts, among individuals who died of an opioid overdose, 1 in 6 had a non-fatal overdose in the preceding 12 months17. These non-fatal overdoses serve as a promising target for opioid overdose prevention efforts, especially for evidence-based treatments such as medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD). The increase in stimulant- involved opioid overdoses also highlights the need to investigate strategies to improve uptake of evidence- based treatments for stimulant use disorders. Significance: In March 2019, the VHA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention released a national clinical note template, the Suicide Behavior and Overdose Report (SBOR). The SBOR standardizes the reporting process, enhances the visibility of suicide and overdose events in the medical record, and is intended to improve clinical care after these events (e.g., by incorporating risk factors for overdose and strategies to mitigate risk, including referrals for care). However, the SBOR is currently mandated for intentional overdose and only recommended for unintentional overdose. Moreover, it is unclear the extent to which it is being used and whether its use improves post-overdose care as intended. Innovation and Impact: The proposed study will characterize non-fatal opioid-, stimulant-, and combined opioid and stimulant overdoses among VHA patients and the extent to which they receive recommended post- overdose care. Given that the SBOR will soon be mandated for all overdoses, and to ensure that VHA is doing everything it can to prevent overdose mortality among Veterans, it is critical to understand whether the SBOR is improving post-overdose care as intended and if additional strategies may be needed. Specific Aims: The proposed study will pursue the following specific aims: Aim 1: Characterize non-fatal opioid and/or stimulant overdoses within VHA and patient-, prescriber-, and setting-related factors associated with post-overdose treatment utilization. Aim 2: Describe utilization of the SBOR among providers of patients with non-fatal opioid and/or stimulant overdoses and associations between SBOR use, post-overdose treatment utilization, and treatment outcomes. Aim 3: Identify barriers and facilitators of post-overdose care and ways to improve it via interviews with VHA patients, patients’ concerned others, and treatment providers. Methodology: The Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance—RE-AIM—framework will guide our study. Aim 1: VHA patients with non-fatal overdoses will be identified using Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW), Community Care, and Medicare data from Fiscal Years 2014 to 2021 (FY2014-2021). Regression models will describe patient, prescriber, and setting factors associated with post-overdose care. Aim 2: Using CDW, Community Care, and Medicare data combined with VA Mortality Data Repository data, primary analyses will examine whether providers’ SBOR use is associated with patients’ post-overdose treatment utilization and reduced mortality using marginal structural Cox mediational models. Aim 3: Up to 60 total interviews will be conducted with VHA patients who experienced a non-fatal overdose, their concerned others, and VHA providers who documented a non-fatal overdose. Rapid and in-depth qualitative analytic approaches will be used; the former allows for rapid provision of actionable feedback to operations partners. Next Steps/Implementation: Our research team has strong operational partnerships and helped develop and implement the SBOR. Our team will ensure that findings are quickly translated to improve post-overdose care.

External Links for this Project

NIH Reporter

Grant Number: I01HX003403-01A1

Dimensions for VA

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

Learn more about Dimensions for VA.

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
    Search Dimensions for this project


Journal Articles

  1. Powell VD, Macleod C, Sussman J, Lin LA, Bohnert ASB, Lagisetty P. Variation in Clinical Characteristics and Longitudinal Outcomes in Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder Diagnosis Codes. Journal of general internal medicine. 2023 Feb 1; 38(3):699-706. [view]

DRA: Substance Use Disorders, Mental, Cognitive and Behavioral Disorders
DRE: TRL - Applied/Translational
Keywords: Symptom Management
MeSH Terms: None at this time.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.