Fishing industry workers are at high risk for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and injuries. Prescription opioids used to treat pain injuries may put these workers at increased risk for developing substance disorders. Using a Community-Based Participatory Research approach, formative research was conducted to inform the eventual development of relevant interventions to prevent and reduce opioid use disorders among fishing industry workers. Qualitative interviews (n = 21) were conducted to assess: knowledge and attitudes about opioid use disorders; features of fishing work that might affect use and/or access to treatment; and community and organizational capacity for prevention and treatment. Participants reported numerous pathways connecting commercial fishing with opioid use. The combination of high stress and physically tasking job duties requires comprehensive workplace interventions to prevent chronic pain and MSDs, in addition to tailored and culturally responsive treatment options to address opioid use disorders in this population. Public health programs must integrate workplace health and safety protection along with evidence-based primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions in order to address opioid use disorders, particularly among workers in strenuous jobs.
Keywords: community based participatory research; industry workers; opioid use disorders; prevention; workplace health.