fentanyl; naloxone; overdose; beliefs; intention; Health Belief Model; harm reduction; misinformation


Background: The news media has spread misinformation about the toxicity and potency of fentanyl, exaggerating the extent to which bystanders could be harmed by fentanyl when responding to overdose situations. College students are increasingly among the victims of opioid overdose, and their peers may be the nearest person capable of administering naloxone – an overdose reversal medication. However, college students who fear incidental exposure to fentanyl may be worried about administering naloxone.

Objective: I sought to understand the relationship between undergraduate college students’ perceptions of the risks of fentanyl and their intentions to administer naloxone in an overdose situation.

Methods: An online survey was formulated based on the Health Belief Model to measure beliefs about the harm of fentanyl and the likelihood of administering naloxone. The survey was distributed to students at a major public university in the Southeastern US in 2024. The survey was analyzed using a Spearman Rank Correlation to assess the relationship between the variables: intent to administer naloxone, beliefs about administering naloxone in an overdose, and perceptions about fentanyl. Additional analysis included the differences in beliefs about fentanyl among health versus non health majors and first year versus non first year students.

Results: Notable findings include no significant correlation between beliefs about fentanyl and intention to administer naloxone in a fentanyl overdose in the 182 respondents who completed the survey. However, a significant difference was found in intention to administer naloxone in a fentanyl overdose in those who know what action to take in a fentanyl overdose versus those who do not.

Conclusions: This study is among the first of its kind to analyze the relationship between fentanyl beliefs and intentions to administer naloxone in a fentanyl overdose. As overdoses and overdose deaths continue to rise and students continue to be among the victims of accidental overdose deaths, universities should use this research to implement early training and resources to improve access to naloxone and naloxone administration.

Thesis Completion Year


Thesis Completion Semester


Thesis Chair

Andraka-Christou, Barbara


College of Community Innovation and Education


School of Global Health Management and Informatics

Thesis Discipline

Health Services Administration



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus Access


Campus Location

Orlando (Main) Campus



Rights Statement

In Copyright