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Doctors Against Tragedies: A Creative Social Awareness Campaign to Address the Fentanyl Crisis
Session: MP-03c
Thurs, April 19, 1:15-3:00 pm
Plymouth (Shubert Complex), 6th floor

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Doctors Against Tragedies:  A Creative Social Awareness Campaign to Address the Fentanyl Crisis

Michiko Maruyama1,2, MD, BDes, Cheryl Mack3,4, BSc. Hons, MD, MA, FRCPC, Vivian Ip4, MB, ChB, MRCP, FRCA, Ferrante Gragasin4, BSc (Hons), PhD (CIP), MD, FRCPC, Robert Lederer2, BA, MDes, IDSA

Departments: 1. Cardiac Surgery 2. Industrial Design 3. Pediatrics 4. Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine - University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada



Fentanyl overdose is a rapidly increasing problem costing thousands of lives. Many locations across North America have declared a state of public health emergency due to this “Fentanyl Crisis”. As a result of the increasing mortality of young individuals, there has been a call for action to initiate change in our society. In response, our team has created “Doctors Against Tragedies” - an innovative fentanyl social awareness campaign targeted at high school and university students.


Material and Methods:

Initial background research revealed that the majority of fentanyl social awareness campaigns rely on fear tactics (1). According to an article released by Public Safety Canada, this “fear tactic” is found to be not only ineffective but may have damaging effects (2). This stratedgy may lead to a fearful culture over fentanyl or other opioids, deterring patients from taking these medications intended for medical purposes. Taking this into consideration, we decided to pursue a creative and educational approach using the process of gamifcation.

A trivia based card game was designed which included peer reviewed questions in the form of true or false, multiple choice and short answers. The questions include facts and myths of fentanyl, the methods of resuscitation and the plan of action should someone be suspected of fentanyl overdose. Also included were facts about addiction and dependence, as well as treatment options for addiction. The initial prototypes of the game underwent focus group testing to determine level of difficulty, knowledge translation and enjoyment.



In the preliminary stage of playing and testing the card game, consensus is that the game is both enjoyable and serves as a knowledge translation tool to the target population. The game was well received and considered a positive approach to fentanyl education and did not rely on fear tactics. Constructive feedback included rephrasing some of the questions for ease of readability purposes and including non-educational game cards to make the game more dynamic. The level of difficulty was considered appropriate with a good variety of both easy and challenging questions. In addition, the detailed answers were appreciated as they provided an explanation and additional information which added to the user’s education.



In the context of fentanyl and opioid education, the combination of presenting both positive and negative facts in the form of a game as a knowledge translation tool is a novel and innovative concept. Further research is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of knowledge transfer in the community.



What does Cards Against Humanity say about us?

“We wish you the best of luck. Sounds like you’re doing a really great thing to keep kids from a really dumb drug.”

What about copyright?

Not an issue, we asked.

Shouldn’t you start the drug awareness education process sooner, before it is “too” late?

Absolutely! We are in the process of creating an awareness campaign for elementary school kids inspired by “MINECRAFT” called “MEDCRAFT”.

Are you expanding to other topics and citys?

Yes! Our goal is to create DAT Teams in cities around the world. We will be addressing multiple topics.

How do I get involved?

Send us an email through our website!



1. Carlos (2017). Face the Fentanyl. www.facethefentanyl.ca

2. Public safety Canada (2016). School-Based Drug Abuse Prevention: Promising and Successful Programs. www.publicsafety.gc.ca


 DAT History:  Doctors Against Tragedies started as the Master of Industrial Design Thesis Project of Dr. Michiko Maruyama.

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