Accessing and Implementing Community Drug Checking in Smaller Urban Vancouver Island: Contextual Factors to Consider




Hutchison, Abby

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The criminalized drug supply in British Columbia and, on a larger scale, in North America is unregulated and leaves those who access the supply to navigate consumption of substances that may be of unknown composition. Drug checking has increasingly been used as a harm reduction measure that provides individuals with greater information about the substances they consume, share, manufacture, and distribute. There is a growing body of evidence related to the acceptability, implementation, service delivery models, and impacts of drug checking. However, much of this research is centered in large urban regions. This follows a trend of inequitable access to harm reduction services within smaller urban centers with a concentration of harm reduction resources and research in large urban regions. This research focuses on the experience of those who will be accessing and implementing drug checking, with specific focus on the context of smaller urban geographic location informs these activities. Data collection tools were informed by the outer context domain of the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research, to capture experiences related to service implementation and accessibility of drug checking within a smaller urban setting and 39 in-depth interviews were conducted. We identified six core factors related to smaller urban context: community and political climate; lack of anonymity and experiences of stigma; social groups and personal relationships; resource availability; geographic profile; and criminalization. Consideration of these factors in drug checking program development and implementation can support equity-oriented services within smaller urban settings.



harm reduction, drug checking, rural, non-urban, overdose, public health