Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Committee Chair

Dr. Sheila Melander

Clinical Mentor

Dr. Robert Couch

Committee Member

Dr. Carol Thompson



PURPOSE: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of heroin use and heroin overdoses has greatly increased in the last decade, regardless of sex, age, race or income. The emergency department (ED) is a common place heroin users present, often as an overdose or due to a complication from their drug use. To address the current opioid epidemic, the CDC calls for increased access to substance abuse treatment services. Peer Mentors placed in the ED serve as a link for the patient to recovery services. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a Peer Mentor Program on adult patients who overdosed on or admitted to using heroin at the time of ED presentation. METHODS: This descriptive single-center study used convenience sampling and a retrospective chart review of patients who consulted with a Peer Mentor. Data were obtained through the Peer Mentor Documentation Sheet, electronic health record chart review, and data extraction from the healthcare system’s data analytics team. RESULTS: Nine patients were seen by Peer Mentors from June through September 2018, two of whom met all inclusion criteria. No patients went directly from the ED to the treatment service center. The healthcare system’s data analytics team compared the patient population of heroin-related ED visits from the same time period; no statistically significant difference (p<0.05) was noted among patient demographics, date and time of ED arrival, ED disposition, and 30-day ED readmit. CONCLUSION: Clinically significant outcomes include identification of the patient population demographics and recognition of the most common days and times where Peer Mentors should be available to engage the majority of patients. Further research is needed to determine the most optimal location and time to present options for substance abuse treatment services.