Feasibility, acceptability, concerns, and challenges of implementing supervised injection services at a specialty HIV hospital in Toronto, Canada: perspectives of people living with HIV
BACKGROUND: Substance use significantly impacts health and healthcare of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV), especially their ability to remain in hospital following admission. Supervised injection services (SIS) reduce overdoses and drug-related harms, but are not often provided within hospitals/outpatient programs. Leading us to question, what are PLHIV’s perceptions of hospital-based SIS?
METHODS: This mixed-methods study explored feasibility and acceptability of implementing SIS at Casey House, a Toronto-based specialty HIV hospital, from the perspective of its in/outpatient clients. We conducted a survey, examining clients’ (n = 92) demand for, and acceptability of, hospital-based SIS. Following this, we hosted two focus groups (n = 14) and one-on-one interviews (n = 8) with clients which explored benefits/drawbacks of in-hospital SIS, wherein participants experienced guided tours of a demonstration SIS space and/or presentations of evidence about impacts of SIS. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Among survey participants, 76.1% (n = 70) identified as cis-male and over half (n = 49;54.4%) had been a hospital client for 2 years or less. Nearly half (48.8%) knew about clients injecting in/near Casey House, while 23.6% witnessed it. Survey participants were more supportive of SIS for inpatients (76.1%) than for outpatients (68.5%); most (74.7%) reported SIS implementation would not impact their level of service use at Casey House, while some predicted coming more often (16.1%) and others less often (9.2%). Most focus group/interview participants, believed SIS would enhance safety by reducing health harms (e.g. overdose), increasing transparency between clients and clinicians about substance use, and helping retain clients in care. Debate arose about who (e.g., in/outpatients vs. non-clients) should have access to hospital-based SIS and how implementation may shift organizational priorities/resources away from services not specific to drug use.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data showed widespread support of, and need for, hospital-based SIS among client stakeholders; however, attempts to reduce negative impacts on non-drug using clients need to be considered in the balance of implementation plans. Given the increased risks of morbidity and mortality for PLHIV who inject drugs as well as the problems in retaining them in care in a hospital setting, SIS is a key component of improving care for this marginalized group.
Rudzinski, K., Xavier, J., Guta, A., Chan Carusone, S., King, K., Phillips, J. C., . . . Strike, C. (2021). Feasibility, acceptability, concerns, and challenges of implementing supervised injection services at a specialty HIV hospital in Toronto, Canada: perspectives of people living with HIV. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 1482. doi:10.1186/s12889-021-11507-z