Diversity in causes and characteristics of drug-induced deaths in an urban setting

Aims: To assess demographic characteristics, treatment utilization and circumstances of death among those who died from drug-induced deaths in an urban setting and to identify possible subpopulations that should be targeted specifically to further develop preventive public health policies.


Subjects (N = 231) who died, from drug-induced deaths, in the Norwegian capital Oslo (2006–2008) were identified through the National Cause of Death Registry. Data on toxicology, prison release and contact with health and social services in Oslo were collected.


Majority of cases were men (78%) and the mean age was 37 years. Nearly all cases (90%) were polydrug intoxications. Heroin was implicated in 67%. Residential address was the most common place of death (67%). Most cases (82%) had been in contact with health and social services in the year before death. Women were 4 years older, more often Oslo residents (82% vs. 64%) and fewer died from heroin intoxication. Non-Oslo residents were younger and more likely to have been found outdoors with heroin as the main intoxicant. Other identified subpopulations were those who died after prison release and those discharged from drug treatment.


The findings suggest that the majority of cases could have been available for preventive measures through their contacts with health and social services. Yet, the heterogeneity among cases indicates that such measures need to be multifaceted. Finally, it is important for policymakers and health and social workers in various countries to consider subpopulations such as women and non-city residents when developing public health interventions to prevent overdose deaths.

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  • Forfattere: Linn Gjersing, Kristine V. Jonassen, Stian Biong, Edle Ravndal, Helge Waal, Jørgen G. Bramness, Thomas Clausen
  • Publisert: Scand J Public Health March 2013 vol. 41 no. 2 119-125
Publisert 15. mars 2013 11:16 - Sist endret 15. mars 2013 11:16