Communities throughout the United States have implemented medicine disposal programs to prevent diversion of unused opioid analgesics from homes but a general lack of awareness may contribute to low rates of utilization. The objective of this study was to develop and test community-based campaign messages promoting appropriate disposal of unused opioids at disposal programs.


In Fall 2019, 491 residents (79% female, 97% White, mean age: 40 years) of five rural, Appalachian counties (3 in Kentucky and 2 in North Carolina) completed a web-based, experimental survey. Participants were randomly exposed to two of four messages and rated each message separately. A pretest–posttest design was utilized to assess change in beliefs about retaining unused prescription opioids in the home following exposure to message sets.


All messages favorably influenced participants’ perceptions related to concerns and risks of retaining unused prescription opioids and importance of - and self-efficacy in disposing of unused opioid medications. After controlling for social and demographic characteristics and baseline beliefs in generalized linear mixed models, Message 1 outperformed other messages in increasing participants’ concern about retaining unused prescription opioids in the home and Message 3 was most effective in increasing self-efficacy to dispose of unused prescription opioids.


Messages including young children and pictorially demonstrate how to dispose of medications may have the greatest impact on behavioral actions related to medication disposal. The findings from this study can be used to inform community-based campaigns to facilitate disposal of unused prescription opioids.

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Published in Addictive Behaviors Reports, v. 12, 100291.

© 2020 The Author(s)

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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Supplementary data to this article can be found online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abrep.2020.100291. It is available for download as the additional file listed at the end of this record.

Research data for this article will be made available on request.

1-s2.0-S2352853220301061-mmc1.xml (1 kB)
Appendix A. Supplementary data