Project Summary

Background: Drug overdose is a leading cause of death in the United States. Although many of these patients accidentally overdose due to the high potency of fentanyl and other novel opioids, others overdose intentionally as a suicide or self-injury attempt. These intentional overdoses occur in patients with and without a substance use disorder and are often misunderstood and understudied. Medical toxicologists are physicians who treat overdoses in emergency departments and critical care settings but have previously rarely engaged patients and community members as partners to advance medical toxicology research.

Proposed Solution to the Problem: This project will engage patient experts and other stakeholders with medical toxicology researchers through the American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT) to advance patient-centered outcomes research/comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/CER) in intentional overdose.

Objectives: The objectives are to:

  • Educate medical toxicology researchers and patients on PCOR/CER collaborations for intentional overdoses
  • Develop a collaborative partnership of patient experts and stakeholders to engage in intentional overdose focused PCOR/CER
  • Create and develop research priorities for PCOR/CER on intentional overdoses

Activities: Activities will consist of virtual one-on-one meetings with patients and the project lead; listening and interactive virtual meetings with patient experts, stakeholders and researchers; and virtual training sessions on how to collaborate toward PCOR/CER for intentional overdoses.

Projected Outcomes and Outputs:

Short-term outcomes during the project period include: 1) increased engagement of patients and stakeholders with medical toxicology researchers and 2) increased understanding of patient experiences with intentional overdoses among medical toxicology researchers.

Medium-term outcomes (zero to two years post project period) include: 1) development of PCOR/CER projects focused specifically on intentional overdoses and 2) incorporation of patient-centered priorities into ongoing and new medical toxicology research projects on intentional overdoses, including CER.

Long-term outcomes (three and more years post project period) include: Improvement of intentional overdose research through prioritizing outcomes that matter to patients who survive an intentional overdose, with an ultimate goal of reducing subsequent overdoses.

The deliverables for this project include:

  • A patient expert panel for active engagement in intentional overdose focused PCOR/CER
  • An engagement strategy guide for medical toxicology researchers to be presented at the ACMT Annual Scientific Meeting
  • Three to five patient-centered research questions and priorities for PCOR/CER
  • A webinar summarizing the PCORI project and the engagement strategy guide to be presented at the ACMT Addiction Medicine Case Conference and available online to the public

Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: The project team will engage patient experts and other stakeholders through partnerships with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention groups, the Addiction Policy Forum, medical toxicologists and behavioral health partners.

Project Collaborators: The project team includes a patient expert with overdose lived experience. The Patient Engagement Studio (PES), who specializes in bringing researchers together with patient experts, will provide expertise and evaluation on patient engagement. The PES will also provide training for medical toxicology researchers on how to engage patients and stakeholders in PCOR/CER. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Addiction Policy Forum will collaborate as stakeholders.

Project Information

Rachel Culbreth, MPH, PhD
American College of Medical Toxicology

Key Dates

May 2024


Project Status
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: April 3, 2024