Basak Tas

Dr Basak Tas is a Research Fellow based at the National Addictions Centre (NAC) of Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience. Her current interests are in developing better clinical and policy responses to opioid-related mortality and morbidity. Her current work focusses on investigating, developing and understanding novel technologies that can detect overdose and respiratory depression through laboratory clinical studies and non-clinical studies. Basak has worked closely within the addictions field for over 12 years, previously working at the UK drugs charity Release.

Wearable overdose detection devices in people who use heroin: exploring effectiveness and acceptability

Many possible devices that have the capacity to detect opioid overdose exist or could be designed. For these devices to be successful, they must be effective at overdose detection and be acceptable to the at-risk population. Through two separate projects, we aim (1) to quantitatively test accuracy of two wearable overdose detection devices; and (2) to qualitatively understand what is required and acceptable in a detection device.

(1) Comparison of smartwatch (Apple Watch) and a chest-sensor (Pneumowave) against traditional measures of respiratory depression after administration of diamorphine (pharmaceutical heroin). Data will be presented as respiratory rate, frequency of apnoeic episodes and oxygen saturation.

(2) Semi-structured qualitative interviews and focus groups among 24 people who use/d heroin, analysed using thematic analysis.

We hypothesise that the smartwatch and chest-sensor will detect respiratory measures comparable to medical-grade measurements.

Separately, we predict devices will have varying perceived drawbacks and advantages. We also predict that those in need may also be those least willing or able to wear the devices.

Our findings will impact development of existing devices and who devices should be aimed at; what future research is needed; and contribute to the discussion on the response to the opioid overdose crisis.