Journal of Community Health

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 238–248 | Cite as

Primary Prevention of Prescription Drug Misuse Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Suburban Communities

  • Matthew Kearney
  • Leslie Reynolds
  • Sandy Blitzstein
  • Kristin Chapin
  • Philip MasseyEmail author


Comprehensive strategies for prescription drug misuse must reach culturally and linguistically diverse suburban populations to effectively combat the ongoing opioid epidemic. The purpose of this study was to conduct a community needs assessment and inform the development and implementation of culturally appropriate primary prevention strategies for community-based interventions, specifically related to medication disposal practices. Three data collection techniques were utilized: key informant interviews (n = 4), intercept surveys (n = 71), and focus group discussions (n = 8; 61 participants). To accommodate linguistically diverse subpopulations, surveys and focus groups were available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Hindi. Participants were overwhelmingly female (survey: 70%/FGD: 84%), ethnic minorities (survey: 61%/FGD: 66%), and, on average, middle-aged [survey: 52 years (SD: 19)/FGD: 54 (15)]. Approximately one in three survey respondents (30%) had heard of drug-take back events, and one in ten (10%) had participated. Non-English speakers were less likely to both perceive a community problem with prescription drugs (β = − .35; p < .001) and be aware of take-back opportunities (β = − .23; p = .038). Focus group participants expressed confusion about appropriate medication disposal methods, identifying potential sources of conflicting information. Recent media coverage and political events have heightened stigma towards non-English speaking and non-native peoples, increasing their fear of law enforcement and other perceived threats. To encourage community engagement in take-back events, we identified multiple ways, such as multilingual materials and marketing campaigns, which may help marginalized suburban subpopulations feel less threatened and more included in prescription drug misuse prevention activities.


Prescription drug misuse prevention Culturally diverse populations Drug take-back 



This work would not have been possible without the YWCA Bucks County community site coordinators and our volunteer participants from Bucks County, we are very thankful for their collaboration and support. From Drexel University, we would also like to thank Kristine Alarcon, who supported the planning, development and implementation of this study, and Nguyen Tran, who provided invaluable feedback during the analysis process.


This work was supported by the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Inc. and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration under Grant No. SP-14-004.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Drexel University Dornsife School of Public HealthPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.YWCA Bucks CountyTrevoseUSA
  3. 3.Drexel University Dornsife School of Public HealthPhiladelphiaUSA

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