Evaluation of a Co-Produced Overdose Detection Wristband page thumbnail

A project funded by a grant from the Office for Life Sciences aimed to develop a wearable overdose detection wristband, The Brave Inclusion Overdose (BIO) Wristband, in collaboration with opioid users. Running from September to December 2023, the project involved focus groups, interviews, and trials with hostel residents and staff. The wristband, designed to emit an alarm upon detecting a lack of movement, was well-received but feedback indicated a need for a slimmer design and improvements in usability. Impact stories highlighted its life-saving potential, marking a significant step forward in harm reduction technology.

Project Background

The Brave Inclusion Overdose (BIO) Wristband project was funded by a £100,000 grant from the Office for Life Sciences and ran from September to December 2023. This initiative focused on designing an effective overdose detection wristband with input from opioid users. Key contributors included a service user representative who designed posters and Karen, a volunteer with lived experience, who supported fieldwork.

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Image: Volunteer Recovery Worker Karen, who supported one of the researchers with fieldwork.

The Aims

The project aimed to develop a wearable technology called The BIO Wristband. This wristband emits an alarm when it detects a lack of movement, helping to identify overdoses. The goal was to test its acceptability among opioid users in hostels with response systems.

The methods used

Initial focus groups involved 20 hostel residents who explored the concept. Following this, semi-structured interviews were conducted with staff at three hostels in Hampshire. Residents then agreed to wear the wristbands for up to two weeks and participated in follow-up interviews to share their experiences. Feedback from hostel staff was also collected. Throughout the project, service users were actively involved, from evaluation to the design of questionnaires and posters.

The results

Feedback highlighted several key points. Firstly, the wristband was well-received by both staff and residents, who saw it as a positive intervention. However, the original prototype was considered bulky and similar to a tag, with a preference expressed for a more slim line, watch-like design. Usability issues were noted, including concerns about battery life, calibration, the on/off button, sleep mode, and status indication.

The impact

The wristband demonstrated its life-saving potential. Participants recounted, "We literally heard the buzzer ringing. He tried to deny it, but two of us heard it. It actually saved his life." Another user shared, "I guess it saved me. It helped; it saved my life. I set mine off."

The BIO Wristband project represents a significant step forward in harm reduction technology. Ongoing improvements will focus on enhancing design and functionality based on user feedback, ensuring the device meets the real needs of its users.

Image: Alert poster designed by service user representative.

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