Using the behaviour change wheel to understand and address barriers to pharmacy naloxone supply in Australia

Suzanne Nielsen*, Anna Olsen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: There has been low community pharmacy-based naloxone supply in Australia despite its over-the-counter status. The Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) is a method used to understand individual and system-level barriers and facilitators to a particular behaviour to inform program implementation. The BCW is focused on three essential conditions of behaviour change (capability, opportunity, and motivation (termed the COM-B)) which we use to assess pharmacists perceptions and experiences of naloxone provision with the aim of using informing targets for interventions to improve naloxone distribution. Method: Qualitative interviews with community pharmacists (n = 37) from four Australian jurisdictions explored naloxone knowledge, expectations and experiences dispensing the medicine. Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded against the a priori domains in the COM-B (capability, opportunity, and motivation). Results were analysed to identify key barriers and facilitators to naloxone provision within each domain. Finally, we mapped our analysis against the intervention functions and policy-level strategies provided in the BCW to identify example intervention strategies. Results: Underlying all pharmacists’ descriptions of naloxone were structural impediments to dispensing including poor communication regarding pharmacists’ role and disrupted supply chains. Mapped across the three COM-B domains, we find two divergent groups of pharmacists. Pharmacists’ capability and motivation to supply naloxone was higher amongst those who did not problematize people who inject drugs and who worked in pharmacies already supplying harm reduction services. Pharmacists were less likely to discuss capabilities and opportunities for naloxone dispensing when harm reduction was not normalised in their workplace and/or they described people who inject drugs using negative and stigmatising language. Conclusions: Analysis using the COM-B framework reveals key areas where implementation and policy strategies are needed to increase naloxone supply. Individual- and structural-level supports are needed to improve pharmacists’ knowledge of naloxone and address other logistical and cultural barriers that limit naloxone provision in pharmacy settings.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number103061
    JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


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