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Overdose Prevention Site Acceptability among Residents and Businesses Surrounding a Proposed Site in Philadelphia, USA


Overdose prevention sites (OPS) are places where people use previously obtained drugs under the supervision of a health professional. They have been proposed in six United States (US) cities, including Philadelphia, to help reduce opioid-related overdose deaths and public injection. Philadelphia has the highest overdose rate among large cities in the US, which has led a local community-based organization to plan the implementation of OPS. Kensington, a neighborhood with the highest drug mortality overdose rates in the city, is a likely site for the proposed OPS. Given the dearth of research systematically assessing public opinion towards OPS prior to implementation, we enrolled 360 residents and 79 business owners/staff in the Kensington neighborhood in a cross-sectional acceptability study. Face-to-face surveys assessed participant characteristics, experiences with drug-related social problems, and OPS acceptability. Using descriptive statistics, we estimated factors associated with favorability towards opening an OPS in the Kensington neighborhood. Ninety percent of residents were in favor of an OPS opening in Kensington. Support was significantly higher among unstably housed individuals and persons who currently use opioids. In the business sample, 63% of owners/staff were in favor of opening an OPS in Kensington. A greater proportion of Asian/Pacific Islanders, Hispanic/Latinx respondents, and non-Hispanic/Latinx Black respondents were in favor of an OPS opening in Kensington compared with white respondents (p < 0.04). While details about implementation are still being considered, results indicate general acceptability among Kensington residents and businesses for an OPS, especially if it can deliver benefits that curb drug-related social problems. Should an OPS be implemented in Philadelphia, it would be important to monitor changes in drug-related social problems and acceptability post implementation.

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  1. During the data collection period for this paper, “Kensington” was popularly used to refer to the adjoining Kensington and Harrowgate neighborhoods [5].


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This study was supported by Arnold Ventures and the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. The authors thank the following participants and dedicated research assistants: Brogan Piecara, Asuseyi Daniyan, Bolutife Odeniyi, Eliza Ziegler, and Carolann Torres. We also thank the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative for data and technical support.

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Correspondence to Alexis M. Roth.

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Roth, A.M., Kral, A.H., Mitchell, A. et al. Overdose Prevention Site Acceptability among Residents and Businesses Surrounding a Proposed Site in Philadelphia, USA. J Urban Health 96, 341–352 (2019).

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  • Overdose prevention sites
  • Acceptability
  • Safe consumption sites
  • Safe injection
  • Opioids