Publications by authors named "Jane Buxton"

192 Publications

The impact of current opioid agonist therapy on hepatitis C virus treatment initiation among people who use drugs from in the DAA era: A population-based study.

Clin Infect Dis 2021 Jun 14. Epub 2021 Jun 14.

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Background: Evidence that opioid agonist therapy (OAT) is associated with increased odds of hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment initiation among people who use drugs (PWUD) is emerging. The objective of this study was to determine the association between current OAT and HCV treatment initiation among PWUD in a population-level linked administrative dataset.

Methods: The British Columbia (BC) Hepatitis Testers Cohort was used for this study, which includes all people tested for or diagnosed with HCV in BC, linked to medical visits, hospitalizations, laboratory, prescription drug, and mortality data from 1992 until 2019. PWUD with injecting drug use or opioid use disorder and chronic HCV infection were identified for inclusion in this study. HCV treatment initiation was the main outcome, and subdistribution proportional hazards modeling was used to assess the relationship with current OAT.

Results: 13,803 PWUD with chronic HCV were included in this study. Among those currently on OAT at the end of the study period, 47% (2,704/5,770) had started HCV treatment, whereas 22% (1778/8033) of those not currently on OAT has started HCV treatment .. Among PWUD with chronic HCV infection, current OAT was associated with higher likelihood of HCV treatment initiation in time to event analysis (adjusted hazard ratio 1.84 [95%CI, 1.50, 2.26]).

Conclusions: Current OAT was associated with a higher likelihood of HCV treatment initiation. However, many PWUD with HCV currently receiving OAT have yet to receive HCV treatment. Enhanced integration between substance use care and HCV treatment is needed to improve the overall health of PWUD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciab546DOI Listing
June 2021

Crystal methamphetamine use in British Columbia, Canada: A cross-sectional study of people who access harm reduction services.

PLoS One 2021 26;16(5):e0252090. Epub 2021 May 26.

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Introduction: Increased use of crystal methamphetamine ("crystal meth") has been observed across North America and international jurisdictions, including a notable increase in the presence of methamphetamines in illicit drug toxicity deaths in British Columbia (BC), Canada. We used data from a cross-sectional survey and urine toxicology screening to report the prevalence, correlates, and validity of self-reported crystal meth use among clients of harm reduction sites in BC.

Materials And Methods: Survey data were collected from 1,107 participants across 25 communities in BC, through the 2018 and 2019 Harm Reduction Client Survey. We described reported substance use and used a multivariate logistic regression model to characterize crystal meth use. Urine samples provided by a subset of participants were used to derive validity of self-reported three-day crystal meth use compared to urine toxicology screening.

Results: Excluding tobacco, crystal meth was the most frequently reported substance used in the past three days in 2018 and 2019 (59.7% and 71.7%, respectively). Smoking was the dominant route of administration for crystal meth, crack, heroin, and fentanyl. Multivariate analysis determined significantly higher odds of crystal meth use among those who used opioids (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] = 3.13), cannabis (AOR = 2.10), and alcohol (1.41), and among those who were not regularly housed (AOR = 2.08) and unemployed (AOR = 1.75). Age ≥50 was inversely associated with crystal meth use (AOR = 0.63). Sensitivity of self-reported crystal meth use was 86%, specificity was 86%, positive predictive value was 96%, and negative predictive value was 65%.

Conclusions: Crystal meth was the most commonly used substance among clients of harm reduction sites in BC in 2018 and 2019, and was frequently used concurrently with opioids. Comparison to urine samples demonstrated high validity of self-reported crystal meth use. Understanding evolving patterns of substance use will be imperative in tailoring harm reduction and substance use services for individuals that use crystal meth.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0252090PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8153500PMC
May 2021

The implementation and role of a staff naloxone program for non-profit community-based sites in British Columbia: A descriptive study.

PLoS One 2021 13;16(5):e0251112. Epub 2021 May 13.

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Introduction: The BC Centre for Disease Control implemented the Facility Overdose Response Box (FORB) program December 1st, 2016 to train and support non-healthcare service providers who may respond to an overdose in the workplace. The program aims to support staff at non-profit community-based organizations by ensuring policy development, training, practice overdose response exercises, and post-overdose debriefing opportunities are established and implemented.

Materials And Methods: Three data sources were used in this descriptive cross-sectional study: FORB site registration data; naloxone administration forms; and a survey that was distributed to FORB sites in February 2019. FORB program site and naloxone administration data from December 1st, 2016 to December 31st, 2019 were analyzed using descriptive statistics. A Cochran-Armitage test was used to assess trends over time in naloxone administration event characteristics. Site coordinator survey results are reported to supplement findings from administrative data.

Results: As of December 31st, 2019, FORB was implemented at 613 sites across BC and 1,758 naloxone administration events were reported. The majority (86.3%, n = 1,517) were indicated as overdose reversals. At registration, 43.6% of sites provided housing services, 26.3% offered harm reduction supplies, and 18.6% provided Take Home Naloxone. Refusal to be transported to hospital following overdose events when emergency services were called showed an increasing trend over time. Most respondents (81.3%) reported feeling confident in their ability to respond to the overdose and 59.6% were offered staff debrief. Based on the 89 site survey responses, supports most commonly made available following an overdose were debrief with a fellow staff member (91.0%), debrief with a supervisor (89.9%), and/or counselling services (84.3%).

Conclusions: The uptake of the FORB program has contributed to hundreds of overdose reversals in community settings in BC. Findings suggest that the FORB program supports developing staff preparedness and confidence in overdose response in community-based settings.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0251112PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8118334PMC
May 2021

Time-series Analysis of Fentanyl Concentration in the Unregulated Opioid Drug Supply in a Canadian Setting.

Am J Epidemiol 2021 May 11. Epub 2021 May 11.

British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

North America has been contending with an unregulated street drug supply in which opioids are often adulterated with illicitly manufactured fentanyl. The unpredictability of composition may result in an increased risk of overdose due to unexpected elevated concentrations of the high-potency drug. Using data from a community-based drug checking project, we evaluated trends in fentanyl concentration of illicit opioids in the context of an overdose epidemic. Using a quantification model for fentanyl hydrochloride, historical Fourier-transform infrared spectra from opioid drug checking samples were analyzed to determine fentanyl concentrations. Median monthly fentanyl concentrations were plotted and polynomial and autoregressive time-series analyses were conducted to examine trends over time. A total of 3,621 fentanyl positive samples were included in the study, spanning November 2017 to December 2019. Monthly median fentanyl concentrations ranged from 4.5% to 10.4%. Time-series analyses indicated that a third-degree polynomial model fit the data well (R2 = 0.639), suggesting a cyclical pattern in median concentration over time. Notably, absolute variance in fentanyl concentration decreased by an average 0.1% per month (p<0.001). Future research should explore the relationship between fentanyl concentration and overdose to identify potential targeted harm reduction interventions that can respond to changes in observed fentanyl concentration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwab129DOI Listing
May 2021

Cohort profile: development and characteristics of a retrospective cohort of individuals dispensed prescription opioids for non-cancer pain in British Columbia, Canada.

BMJ Open 2021 04 13;11(4):e043586. Epub 2021 Apr 13.

BC Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Purpose: Prescription opioids (POs) are widely prescribed for chronic non-cancer pain but are associated with several risks and limited long-term benefit. Large, linked data sources are needed to monitor their harmful effects. We developed and characterised a retrospective cohort of people dispensed POs.

Participants: We used a large linked administrative database to create the Opioid Prescribing Evaluation and Research Activities cohort of individuals dispensed POs for non-cancer pain in British Columbia (BC), Canada (1996-2015). We created definitions to categorise episodes of PO use based on a review of the literature (acute, episodic, chronic), developed an algorithm for inferring clinical indication and assessed patterns of PO use across a range of characteristics.

Findings To Date: The current cohort includes 1.1 million individuals and 3.4 million PO episodes (estimated to capture 40%-50% of PO use in BC). The majority of episodes were acute (81%), with most prescribed for dental or surgical pain. Chronic use made up 3% of episodes but 88% of morphine equivalents (MEQ). Across the acute to episodic to chronic episode gradient, there was an increasing prevalence of higher potency POs (hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine), long-acting formulations and chronic pain related indications (eg, back, neck, joint pain). Average daily dose (MEQ) was similar for acute/episodic but higher for chronic episodes. Approximately 7% of the cohort had a chronic episode and chronic pain was the characteristic most strongly associated with chronic PO use. Individuals initiating a chronic episode were also more likely to have higher social/material deprivation and previous experience with a mental health condition or a problem related to alcohol or opioid use. Overall, these findings suggest our episode definitions have face validity and also provide insight into characteristics of people initiating chronic PO therapy.

Future Plans: The cohort will be refreshed every 2 years. Future analyses will explore the association between POs and adverse outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-043586DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8051385PMC
April 2021

Pathways between COVID-19 public health responses and increasing overdose risks: A rapid review and conceptual framework.

Int J Drug Policy 2021 07 20;93:103236. Epub 2021 Mar 20.

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, 655W 12th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4R4, Canada; School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, 2206 East Mall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada.

Background: Emerging evidence indicates that illicit drug overdoses are increasing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a paucity of evidence on the causative pathways for this trend, but expert opinions, commentaries, and some reviews offer theoretical underpinnings.

Methods: In this rapid review, we collate the available published evidence, expert opinions, commentaries, and reviews on the unintended pathways between COVID-19 public health responses and increasing illicit drug overdoses. Using tenets of thematic analyses and grounded theory, we also offer a visual conceptual framework for these unintended pathways.

Results: Our framework focuses on five particular public health responses, namely social isolation/physical distancing/quarantine; staff/resource reallocations and reductions; closures of businesses and other places of employment; border closures and transportation restrictions; and the early release of people from prisons. As argued in the literature reviewed here, these public health responses have unintentionally created increased overdose risks by producing high risk use scenarios; increased risks of relapsing; disrupted addictions services and treatment; an increasingly toxic supply of drugs; and the risk of using with lowered tolerance.

Conclusions: Health care systems should respond to these pathways to mitigate the unintended consequences. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic may represent an opportunity to enact proactive, progressive, and innovative solutions to an overdose crisis that will surely outlast the current pandemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103236DOI Listing
July 2021

Combining respondent-driven sampling with a community-based participatory action study of people who smoke drugs in two cities in British Columbia, Canada.

Harm Reduct J 2021 Mar 26;18(1):37. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

School of Public Health, Room 101, 600 Peter Morand Crescent, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, KIH 8M5, Canada.

Background: The smoking of illicit drugs presents a serious social and economic burden in Canada. People who smoke drugs (PWSD) are at increased risk of contracting multiple infections through risky drug practices. Peer-led harm reduction activities, and the resulting social networks that form around them, can potentially minimize the dangers associated with the smoking illicit drugs.

Goal: The goals of this study were to pilot test the combined approaches of respondent driven sampling with community based participatory action research in these settings and compare the attributes and social networks of PWSD in two British Columbia cities with different harm reduction programs.

Methods: Using community-based participatory action research (CBPAR) and respondent-driven sampling (RDS), individuals with lived drug experiences were employed from communities in Abbotsford and Vancouver as peer researchers to interview ten contacts from their social networks. Contacts completed a questionnaire about their harm reduction behaviours and interactions.

Results: We found that PWSD residing in Abbotsford were more likely to report engaging in harm-promoting behaviours, such as sharing, reusing, or borrowing crack pipes. However, PWSD in the Downtown East side Community of Vancouver were more likely to report engaging in harm-reducing activities, such as being trained in naloxone use and CPR. We found no differences in network sizes between the two communities, despite the population differences and harm reduction programs CONCLUSION: The high participation rates and interactions between researchers, and peer researchers enriched the study implementation and successfully informed our results. The fact that there were no differences in network size suggests that people have similar support in Vancouver as in Abbotsford, and that drug use practices differ mainly due to availability of harm reduction programming and resources.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12954-021-00482-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8004455PMC
March 2021

Take-home naloxone programs for suspected opioid overdose in community settings: a scoping umbrella review.

BMC Public Health 2021 03 26;21(1):597. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

BC Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Background: Opioid related overdoses and overdose deaths continue to constitute an urgent public health crisis. The implementation of naloxone programs, such as 'take-home naloxone' (THN), has emerged as a key intervention in reducing opioid overdose deaths. These programs aim to train individuals at risk of witnessing or experiencing an opioid overdose to recognize an opioid overdose and respond with naloxone. Naloxone effectively reverses opioid overdoses on a physiological level; however, there are outstanding questions on community THN program effectiveness (adverse events, dosing requirements, dose-response between routes of administration) and implementation (accessibility, availability, and affordability). The objective of this scoping review is to identify existing systematic reviews and best practice guidelines relevant to clinical and operational guidance on the distribution of THN.

Methods: Using the Arksey & O'Malley framework for scoping reviews, we searched both academic literature and grey literature databases using keywords (Naloxone) AND (Overdose) AND (Guideline OR Review OR Recommendation OR Toolkit). Only documents which had a structured review of evidence and/or provided summaries or recommendations based on evidence were included (systematic reviews, meta-analyses, scoping reviews, short-cut or rapid reviews, practice/clinical guidelines, and reports). Data were extracted from selected evidence in two key areas: (1) study identifiers; and (2) methodological characteristics.

Results: A total of 47 articles met inclusion criteria: 20 systematic reviews; 10 grey literature articles; 8 short-cut or rapid reviews; 4 scoping reviews; and 5 other review types (e.g. mapping review and comprehensive reviews). The most common subject themes were: naloxone effectiveness, safety, provision feasibility/acceptability of naloxone distribution, dosing and routes of administration, overdose response after naloxone administration, cost-effectiveness, naloxone training and education, and recommendations for policy, practice and gaps in knowledge.

Conclusions: Several recent systematic reviews address the effectiveness of take-home naloxone programs, naloxone dosing/route of administration, and naloxone provision models. Gaps remain in the evidence around evaluating cost-effectiveness, training parameters and strategies, and adverse events following naloxone administration. As THN programs continue to expand in response to opioid overdose deaths, this review will contribute to understanding the evidence base for policy and THN program development and expansion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-10497-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8004425PMC
March 2021

Hepatitis C Virus Prevalence, Screening, and Treatment Among People Who Are Incarcerated in Canada: Leaving No One Behind in the Direct-Acting Antiviral Era.

Clin Liver Dis (Hoboken) 2021 Feb 28;17(2):75-80. Epub 2021 Feb 28.

Department of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases and Chronic Viral Illness Service McGill University Montreal QC Canada.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cld.1023DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916434PMC
February 2021

Supporting people leaving prisons during COVID-19: perspectives from peer health mentors.

Int J Prison Health 2021 02;ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print)

School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada and the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Purpose: Currently, people leaving prisons face concurrent risks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the overdose public health emergency. The closure or reduction of community services people rely on after release such as treatment centres and shelters has exacerbated the risks of poor health outcomes and harms. This paper aims to learn from peer health mentors (PHM) about changes to their work during overlapping health emergencies, as well as barriers and opportunities to support people leaving prison in this context.

Design/methodology/approach: The Unlocking the Gates (UTG) Peer Health Mentoring Program supports people leaving prison in British Columbia during the first three days after release. The authors conducted two focus groups with PHM over video conference in May 2020. Focus groups were recorded and transcribed, and themes were iteratively developed using narrative thematic analysis.

Findings: The findings highlighted the importance of peer health mentorship for people leaving prisons. PHM discussed increased opportunities for collaboration, ways the pandemic has changed how they are able to provide support, and how PHM are able to remain responsive and flexible to meet client needs. Additionally, PHM illuminated ways that COVID-19 has exacerbated existing barriers and identified specific actions needed to support client health, including increased housing and recovery beds, and tools for social and emotional well-being.

Originality/value: This study contributes to our understanding of peer health mentorship during the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of mentors. PHM expertise can support release planning, improved health and well-being of people leaving prison and facilitate policy-supported pandemic responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJPH-09-2020-0069DOI Listing
February 2021

Elevated risk of colorectal, liver, and pancreatic cancers among HCV, HBV and/or HIV (co)infected individuals in a population based cohort in Canada.

Ther Adv Med Oncol 2021 11;13:1758835921992987. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

BC Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, Canada.

Introduction: Studies of the impact of hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HIV mono and co-infections on the risk of cancer, particularly extra-hepatic cancer, have been limited and inconsistent in their findings.

Methods: In the British Columbia Hepatitis Testers Cohort, we assessed the risk of colorectal, liver, and pancreatic cancers in association with HCV, HBV and HIV infection status. Using Fine and Gray adjusted proportional subdistribution hazards models, we assessed the impact of infection status on each cancer, accounting for competing mortality risk. Cancer occurrence was ascertained from the BC Cancer Registry.

Results: Among 658,697 individuals tested for the occurrence of all three infections, 1407 colorectal, 1294 liver, and 489 pancreatic cancers were identified. Compared to uninfected individuals, the risk of colorectal cancer was significantly elevated among those with HCV (Hazard ration [HR] 2.99; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.55-3.51), HBV (HR 2.47; 95% CI 1.85-3.28), and HIV mono-infection (HR 2.30; 95% CI 1.47-3.59), and HCV/HIV co-infection. The risk of liver cancer was significantly elevated among HCV and HBV mono-infected and all co-infected individuals. The risk of pancreatic cancer was significantly elevated among individuals with HCV (HR 2.79; 95% CI 2.01-3.70) and HIV mono-infection (HR 2.82; 95% CI 1.39-5.71), and HCV/HBV co-infection.

Discussion/conclusion: Compared to uninfected individuals, the risk of colorectal, pancreatic and liver cancers was elevated among those with HCV, HBV and/or HIV infection. These findings highlight the need for targeted cancer prevention and diligent clinical monitoring for hepatic and extrahepatic cancers in infected populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1758835921992987DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7887683PMC
February 2021

Awareness of fentanyl exposure and the associated overdose risks among people who inject drugs in a Canadian setting.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 Feb 18. Epub 2021 Feb 18.

British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, Vancouver, Canada.

Introduction: Illicitly manufactured fentanyl continues to fuel the opioid overdose crisis throughout the USA and Canada. However, little is known about factors associated with knowingly or unknowingly using fentanyl. Therefore, we sought to identify the prevalence and correlates of suspected/known and unknown exposure to fentanyl (excluding the prescribed one) among people who inject drugs (PWID), including associated overdose risks.

Methods: Data were derived from three prospective cohort studies of community-recruited people who use drugs in Vancouver, Canada in 2016-2017. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify correlates of suspected/known exposure (i.e. urine drug screen positive and self-reporting past 3-day exposure) and unknown exposure to fentanyl (i.e. urine drug screen positive and self-reporting no past three-day exposure), respectively.

Results: Among 590 PWID, 296 (50.2%) tested positive for fentanyl. Of those, 143 (48.3%) had suspected/known and 153 (51.7%) had unknown exposure to fentanyl. In multivariable analyses, using supervised injection sites and possessing naloxone were associated with both suspected/known and unknown exposure (all P < 0.05). Injecting drugs alone (adjusted odds ratio 3.26; 95% confidence interval: 1.72-6.16) was associated with known exposure, but not with unknown exposure.

Discussion And Conclusions: We found a high prevalence of fentanyl exposure in our sample of PWID, with one half of those exposed consuming fentanyl unknowingly. While those exposed to fentanyl appeared more likely to utilise some overdose prevention services, PWID with suspected/known fentanyl exposure were more likely to inject alone, indicating a need for additional overdose prevention efforts for this group.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13261DOI Listing
February 2021

"Running myself ragged": stressors faced by peer workers in overdose response settings.

Harm Reduct J 2021 Feb 11;18(1):18. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

BC Centre for Disease Control, 655 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4R4, Canada.

Background: Peer workers or "peers" (workers with past or present drug use experience) are at the forefront of overdose response initiatives, and their role is essential in creating safe spaces for people who use drugs (PWUD). Working in overdose response settings has benefits for peer workers but is also stressful, with lasting emotional and mental health effects. Yet, little is known about the stressors peer workers face and what interventions can be implemented to support them in their roles.

Methods: This project used a community-based sequential mixed-methods research design. Eight peer researcher-led focus groups (n = 31) were conducted between November 2018 and March 2019 to assess needs of peer workers. The transcripts were thematically coded and analysed using interpretative description. These results informed a survey, which was conducted (n = 50) in September 2019 to acquire quantitative data on peer workers' perception of health, quality of life, working conditions and stressors. Frequency distributions were used to describe characteristics of participants. X distribution values with Yates correction were conducted to check for association between variables.

Results: Five themes emerged from the focus groups that point to stressors felt by peer workers: (1) financial insecurity; (2) lack of respect and recognition at work; (3) housing challenges; (4) inability to access and/or refer individuals to resources; and (5) constant exposure to death and trauma. Consistent with this, the factors that survey participants picked as one of their "top three stressors" included financial situation, work situation, and housing challenges.

Conclusion: Peer workers are faced with a diversity of stressors in their lives which often reflect societal stigmatization of drug use. Recognition of these systemic stressors is critical in designing interventions to ease the emotional, physical and financial burden faced by peer workers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12954-020-00449-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7877312PMC
February 2021

Emergency department buprenorphine/naloxone: What we can achieve with system-level support and local champions.

CJEM 2020 11;22(6):735-737

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/cem.2020.470DOI Listing
November 2020

Prenatal hepatitis C screening, diagnoses, and follow-up testing in British Columbia, 2008-2019.

PLoS One 2020 31;15(12):e0244575. Epub 2020 Dec 31.

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Objective: Current guidelines in British Columbia recommend prenatal screening for hepatitis C antibodies (anti-HCV) if risk factors are present. We aimed to estimate frequency of prenatal anti-HCV testing, new diagnoses, repeated and follow-up testing among BC women.

Methods: BC Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory data estimated the number of BC women (assigned female at birth or unknown sex) aged 13-49 who received routine prenatal serological screening (HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis and rubella) from 2008-2019. Anti-HCV tests ordered the same day as routine prenatal screens were considered prenatal anti-HCV tests. Assessment of follow-up was based on HCV RNA and/or genotype testing within one year of new prenatal anti-HCV diagnoses.

Results: In 2019, 55,202 routine prenatal screens were carried out for 50,392 BC women. Prenatal anti-HCV tests increased significantly, from 19.6% (9,704/49,515) in 2008 to 54.6% (27,516/50,392) in 2019 (p<0.001). New prenatal anti-HCV diagnoses (HCV positive diagnoses at first test or seroconversions) declined from 14.3% in 2008 to 10.1% in 2019. The proportion of women with new prenatal anti-HCV diagnoses that were a result of a first HCV test declined from 0.3% (29/9,701) in 2008 to 0.03% (8/27,500) in 2019. For women known to be anti-HCV positive at the time of prenatal screening, the proportion who had a prenatal anti-HCV test increased from 35.6% in 2008 to 50.8% in 2019.

Conclusion: Prenatal anti-HCV testing increased substantially over the study period. However, new HCV diagnoses remained relatively stable, suggesting that a considerable proportion of BC women with low or no risk are being screened as part of prenatal care. The vast majority of women with new HCV diagnoses receive appropriate follow-up HCV RNA and genotype testing, which may indicate interest in HCV treatment. These findings contribute to the discussion around potential for prenatal anti-HCV screening in an effort to eliminate HCV.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0244575PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7775094PMC
March 2021

A randomized clinical trial of a theory-based fentanyl overdose education and fentanyl test strip distribution intervention to reduce rates of opioid overdose: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial.

Trials 2020 Nov 26;21(1):976. Epub 2020 Nov 26.

Department of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.

Background: Opioid overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl, remain a substantial public health concern in North America. Responses to overdose events (e.g., administration of naloxone and rescue breathing) are effective at reducing mortality; however, more interventions are needed to prevent overdoses involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl. This study protocol aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a behavior change intervention that incorporates individual counseling, practical training in fentanyl test strip use, and distribution of fentanyl test strips for take-home use among people who use drugs.

Methods: Residents of Rhode Island aged 18-65 years who report recent substance use (including prescription pills obtained from the street; heroin, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine; or any drug by injection) (n = 500) will be recruited through advertisements and targeted street-based outreach into a two-arm randomized clinical trial with 12 months of post-randomization follow-up. Eligible participants will be randomized (1:1) to receive either the RAPIDS intervention (i.e., fentanyl-specific overdose education, behavior change motivational interviewing (MI) sessions focused on using fentanyl test strips to reduce overdose risk, fentanyl test strip training, and distribution of fentanyl test strips for personal use) or standard overdose education as control. Participants will attend MI booster sessions (intervention) or attention-matched control sessions at 1, 2, and 3 months post-randomization. All participants will be offered naloxone at enrolment. The primary outcome is a composite measure of self-reported overdose in the previous month at 6- and/or 12-month follow-up visit. Secondary outcome measures include administratively linked data regarding fatal (post-mortem investigation) and non-fatal (hospitalization or emergency medical service utilization) overdoses.

Discussion: If the RAPIDS intervention is found to be effective, its brief MI and fentanyl test strip training components could be easily incorporated into existing community-based overdose prevention programming to help reduce the rates of fentanyl-related opioid overdose.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04372238 . Registered on 01 May 2020.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13063-020-04898-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7690169PMC
November 2020

Convenience and comfort: reasons reported for using drugs alone among clients of harm reduction sites in British Columbia, Canada.

Harm Reduct J 2020 11 23;17(1):90. Epub 2020 Nov 23.

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, 655 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4R4, Canada.

Background: North American communities are severely impacted by the overdose crisis, particularly in British Columbia (BC), which has the highest toxic drug overdose death rate in Canada. Most fatal overdoses in BC occurred among individuals using alone and in private residences. This study aimed to assess prevalence and reasons for using drugs alone among people accessing harm reduction services in BC.

Methods: We recruited harm reduction supply distribution site clients from 22 communities across BC. Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression were used to describe factors associated with using alone. Thematic analysis of free-text responses providing reasons for using alone were grouped with survey data and additional themes identified.

Results: Overall, 75.8% (n = 314) of the study sample (N = 414) reported using drugs alone within the last week. Those that reported using alone did not differ from those that did not by gender, age, urbanicity, or preferred drug use method. Among those that used alone, 73.2% (n = 230) used opioids, 76.8% (n = 241) used crystal meth, 41.4% (n = 130) used crack/cocaine, and 44.6% (n = 140) used alcohol in the past week. Polysubstance use involving stimulants, opioids, and/or benzodiazepines was reported by 68.5% (n = 215) of those that used alone. Additionally, 22.9% (n = 72) of those that used alone had experienced an opioid and/or stimulant overdose in the past 6 months. In a multivariable logistic regression model, having no regular housing and past week crack/cocaine use were associated with using alone (adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 2.27; 95% CI 1.20-4.27 and AOR: 2.10; 95% CI 1.15-3.82, respectively). The most common reason reported for using alone was convenience and comfort of using alone (44.3%). Additional reasons included: stigma/hiding drug use (14.0%); having no one around (11.7%); safety (9.6%); and not wanting to share drugs with others (8.6%).

Conclusions: Using drugs alone, particularly for convenience and comfort, is ubiquitous among people accessing harm reduction services. Overdose prevention measures that go beyond individual behaviour changes, including providing a safer supply of drugs and eliminating stigma, are paramount to mitigate harms. These interventions are especially necessary as emergence of coronavirus disease may further exacerbate unpredictability of illicit drug content and overdose risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12954-020-00436-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7682134PMC
November 2020

Authors' reply to Comment on Comparison of rates of opioid withdrawal symptoms and reversal of opioid toxicity in patients treated with two naloxone dosing regimens.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2021 01 20;59(1):80-81. Epub 2020 Nov 20.

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15563650.2020.1846744DOI Listing
January 2021

"It's an emotional roller coaster… But sometimes it's fucking awesome": Meaning and motivation of work for peers in overdose response environments in British Columbia.

Int J Drug Policy 2021 02 9;88:103015. Epub 2020 Nov 9.

BC Centre for Disease Control, 655 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4R4, Canada; School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, 2329 West Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: The province of British Columbia (BC), Canada is amid dual public health emergencies in which the overdose epidemic declared in 2016 has been exacerbated by restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Experiential workers, commonly known as 'peers' (workers with past or present drug use experience) are at the forefront of overdose response initiatives and are essential in creating safe spaces for people who use drugs (PWUD) in harm reduction. Working in overdose response environments can be stressful, with lasting emotional and mental health effects. There is limited knowledge about the personal meaning that experiential workers derive from their work, which serve as motivators for them to take on these often-stressful roles.

Methods: This project used a community-based qualitative research design. The research was based at two organizations in BC. Eight experiential worker-led focus groups were conducted (n = 31) where participants spoke about their roles, positive aspects of their jobs, challenges they face, and support needs in harm reduction work. Transcripts were coded and analyzed using interpretative description to uncover the meaning derived from experiential work.

Results: Three themes emerged from focus group data that describe the meanings which serve as motivators for experiential workers to continue working in overdose response environments: (1) A sense of purpose from helping others; (2) Being an inspiration for others, and; (3) A sense of belonging.

Conclusion: Despite the frequent hardships and loss that accompany overdose response work, experiential workers identified important aspects that give their work meaning. These aspects of their work may help to protect workers from the emotional harms associated with stressful work as well as the stigma of substance use. Recognizing the importance of experiential work and its role in the lives of PWUD can help inform and strengthen organizational supports.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.103015DOI Listing
February 2021

Comparing mortality and healthcare utilization in the year following a paramedic-attended non-fatal overdose among people who were and were not transported to hospital: A prospective cohort study using linked administrative health data.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2021 01 25;218:108381. Epub 2020 Oct 25.

Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, 2194 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada; Providence Health Care, 1081 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC, V6Z 1Y6, Canada.

Background: As the overdose emergency continues in British Columbia (BC), paramedic-attended overdoses are increasing, as is the proportion of people not transported to hospital following an overdose. This study investigated risk of death and subsequent healthcare utilization for people who were and were not transported to hospital after a paramedic-attended non-fatal overdose.

Methods: Using a linked administrative health data set which includes all overdoses that come into contact with health services in BC, we conducted a prospective cohort study of people who experienced a paramedic-attended non-fatal overdose between 2015 and 2016. People were followed for 365 days after the index event. The primary outcomes assessed were all-cause mortality and overdose-related death. Additionally, we examined healthcare utilization after the index event.

Results: In this study, 8659 (84%) people were transported and 1644 (16%) were not transported to hospital at the index overdose event. There were 279 overdose deaths (2.7% of people, 59.4% of deaths) during follow-up. There was no significant difference in risk of overdose-related death, though people not transported had higher odds of a subsequent non-fatal overdose event captured in emergency department and outpatient records within 90 days. People transported to hospital had higher odds of using hospital and outpatient services for any reason within 365 days.

Conclusions: Transport to hospital after a non-fatal overdose is an opportunity to provide care for underlying and chronic conditions. There is a need to better understand factors that contribute to non-transport, particularly among people aged 20-59 and people without chronic conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108381DOI Listing
January 2021

Drug-related deaths in a population-level cohort of people living with and without hepatitis C virus in British Columbia, Canada.

Int J Drug Policy 2020 Oct 19;86:102989. Epub 2020 Oct 19.

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, 655 West 12(th) Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V5Z 4R4; School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, 2206 E Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6T 1Z3.

Background: The majority of new HCV infections in Canada occur in people who inject drugs. Thus, while curative direct antiviral agents (DAAs) herald a promising new era in hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment, improving the lives and wellbeing of people living with HCV (PLHCV) must be considered in the context of reducing overdose-related harms and with a syndemic lens. We measure drug-related deaths (DRDs) among HCV-negative people and PLHCV in British Columbia (BC), Canada, and the impact of potent contaminants like fentanyl on deaths.

Methods: We identified DRDs among PLHCV and HCV-negative individuals from 2010 to 2018 in the BC Hepatitis Testers Cohort, a population-based dataset of ~1.7 million British Columbians comprising comprehensive administrative and clinical data. We estimated annual standardized liver- and drug-related mortality rates per 100,000 person-years (PY) and described the contribution of specific drugs, including fentanyl and its analogues, implicated in DRDs over time.

Results: DRDs constituted 20.1% of deaths among PLHCV and 4.7% of deaths among HCV-negative individuals; a 4.3-fold (95% confidence interval: 4.0-4.5) difference. Drug-related mortality overtook liver-related mortality for PLHCV in 2015 and HCV-negative individuals in 2016 and rose from 241.7 to 436.5 per 100,000 PY from 2010 to 2018 amongPLHCV and from 20.0 to 57.1 per 100,000 PY for HCV-negative individuals over the same period. The proportion of deaths attributable to drugs among PLHCV and HCV-negative individuals increased from 15.1% to 26.1% and 3.1% to 8.0%, in 2010 and 2018, respectively. The proportion of DRDs attributed solely to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl averaged across both groups increased from 2.1% in 2010 to 69.6% in 2017.

Conclusion: Steep drug-related mortality increases among PLHCV and HCV-negative individuals over the last decade highlight the urgent need to address overdose-related drivers and harms in these populations using an integrated care approach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.102989DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7569420PMC
October 2020

Risk of overdose-related death for people with a history of incarceration.

Addiction 2021 06 27;116(6):1460-1471. Epub 2020 Nov 27.

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Background And Aims: Reported associations between previous incarceration and the risk of overdose-related death are substantially heterogeneous, and previous studies are limited by an inability to control for confounding factors in risk assessment. This study investigated the associations of overdose-related death with previous incarceration and the number or cumulative duration of previous incarcerations, and individual or neighborhood characteristics that may potentially modify the associations.

Design And Setting: A cohort study using a 20% random sample of residents in British Columbia, Canada.

Participants: A total of 765 690 people aged 23 years or older at baseline as of 1 January 2015. Mean age was 50 years; 49% were males.

Measurements: Previous incarcerations that occurred during the 5-year exposure period (January 2010 to December 2014) were identified using provincial incarceration records. Overdose-related deaths that occurred during the 3-year follow-up period (January 2015 to December 2017) were identified using linked administrative health data. Baseline individual and neighborhood characteristics were retrieved from the provincial health insurance data.

Findings: In the cohort, 5743 people had an incarceration history during the exposure period, and 634 people died from drug overdose during the follow-up period. The mortality rate was 897 and 22 per 100 000 person-years for people who did and did not have an incarceration history, respectively. After adjusting for baseline individual and neighborhood characteristics (without any interaction term), people who had an incarceration history were 4.04 times (95% confidence interval 3.23-5.06) more likely to die from drug overdose compared with people without an incarceration history. The association was stronger for females, people without diagnoses of substance use disorder and people without dispensation of opioids for pain or benzodiazepines (P < 0.001 for each interaction term). There was no discernible linear trend between the number or cumulative duration of previous incarcerations and the risk of overdose-related death.

Conclusions: Previous incarceration appears to be a major risk factor for overdose-related death.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/add.15293DOI Listing
June 2021

'You're not just a medical professional': Exploring paramedic experiences of overdose response within Vancouver's downtown eastside.

PLoS One 2020 28;15(9):e0239559. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

Department of Medicine, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Background: Overdose response has become an increasingly relevant component of paramedic practice, particularly in light of increased opioid overdose globally. Previous studies have noted gaps in our understanding regarding the unique challenges which paramedics face during this form of pre-hospital emergency care. The aim of this study is to explore and describe the ways in which paramedics experience overdose response, specifically within a community markedly affected by the overdose crisis.

Methods: Ten participants were recruited from a single ambulance station located in an urban center in Western Canada. Two rounds of semi-structured individual interviews were conducted, and data saturation was found to have been reached. Verbatim transcripts were produced and subject to two rounds of descriptive and pattern coding. A second researcher reviewed all of the codes, with disagreements being handled by discussion until agreement was obtained. Themes were identified, along with a Core Category which seeks to describe the underlying dynamics of overdose response represented in our data. The concept of a Core Category was borrowed from Grounded Theory methodology.

Findings: Five major themes were identified: Connecting with patients' lived experiences; Occupying roles as clinicians and patient advocates; Navigating on-scene hazards; Difficulties with transitions of care; and Emotional burden of the overdose crisis. A core category was identified as One's capacity to help.

Conclusions: This research contributes to existing literature on overdose response by specifically examining paramedic experiences during this form of emergency care. While paramedics felt highly confident in providing clinical care, their capacity to address underlying causes of drug use was understood as much more limited. Participants found ways to address this lack of control, along with feelings of frustration, by trying to understand patient perspectives and adopting empathetic attitudes.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0239559PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7521748PMC
November 2020

Accessing Take-Home Naloxone in British Columbia and the role of community pharmacies: Results from the analysis of administrative data.

PLoS One 2020 11;15(9):e0238618. Epub 2020 Sep 11.

BC Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Introduction: British Columbia's (BC) Take-Home Naloxone (THN) program provides naloxone to bystanders for use in cases of suspected opioid overdose. This study seeks to provide trends and analysis from the provincial BC THN program since inception in 2012 to the end of 2018.

Materials And Methods: BC THN shipment and distribution records from 2012-2018 were retrieved. Frequency distributions were used to describe characteristics of individuals accessing the program. To evaluate correlates of distribution after the addition of hundreds of pharmacy distribution sites, an analytic sample was limited to records from 2018, and multivariate logistic regression was used to evaluate correlates of collecting naloxone at a pharmacy site.

Results: Since program inception to the end of 2018, there were 398,167 naloxone kits shipped to distribution sites, 149,999 kits reported distributed, and 40,903 kits reported used to reverse an overdose in BC. There was a significant increasing trend in the number of naloxone kits used to reverse an overdose over time (p<0.01), and more than 90% of kits that were reported used were distributed to persons at risk of an overdose. Individuals not personally at risk of overdose had higher odds of collecting naloxone at a pharmacy site, compared to other community sites (including harm reduction supply distribution sites, peer led organizations, drop-in centers, and supportive housing sites) (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR): 2.69; 95% CI: 2.50-2.90).

Conclusions: This study documents thousands of opioid overdose reversals facilitated through the BC THN program. While those at highest risk of overdose may preferentially access naloxone through community sites, naloxone distribution through pharmacies has allowed the BC THN program to expand dramatically, increasing naloxone availability through longer opening hours on evenings and weekends. and in rural and remote regions. A diversity of naloxone distribution sites and strategies is crucial to prevent rising opioid overdose deaths.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0238618PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7485887PMC
October 2020

Social network support and harm reduction activities in a peer researcher-led pilot study, British Columbia, Canada.

Harm Reduct J 2020 08 21;17(1):57. Epub 2020 Aug 21.

School of Public Health, University of Ottawa, Room 101, 600 Peter Morand Crescent, Ottawa, Ontario, KIH 8 M5, Canada.

Background: People who smoke drugs (PWSD) are at high risk of both infectious disease and overdose. Harm reduction activities organized by their peers in the community can reduce risk by providing education, safer smoking supplies, and facilitate access to other services. Peers also provide a network of people who provide social support to PWSD which may reinforce harm reducing behaviors. We evaluated the numbers of supportive network members and the relationships between received support and participants' harm-reducing activities.

Methods: Initial peer-researchers with past or current lived drug use experience were employed from communities in Abbotsford and Vancouver to interview ten friends from their social networks who use illegal drugs mainly through smoking. Contacts completed a questionnaire about people in their own harm reduction networks and their relationships with each other. We categorized social support into informational, emotional, and tangible aspects, and harm reduction into being trained in the use of, or carrying naloxone, assisting peers with overdoses, using brass screens to smoke, obtaining pipes from service organizations and being trained in CPR.

Results: Fifteen initial peer researchers interviewed 149 participants who provided information on up to 10 people who were friends or contacts and the relationships between them. People who smoked drugs in public were 1.46 (95% CI, 1.13-1.78) more likely to assist others with possible overdoses if they received tangible support; women who received tangible support were 1.24 (95% CI; 1.02-1.45) more likely to carry and be trained in the use of naloxone. There was no relationship between number of supportive network members and harm reduction behaviors.

Conclusions: In this pilot study, PWSD who received tangible support were more likely to assist peers in possible overdoses and be trained in the use of and/or carry naloxone, than those who did not receive tangible support. Future work on the social relationships of PWSD may prove valuable in the search for credible and effective interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12954-020-00401-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7441606PMC
August 2020

Legal approaches and government policies enacted to address the overdose epidemic: a scoping review protocol.

JBI Evid Synth 2021 01;19(1):184-200

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Objective: The objective of this scoping review is to map different past and present legal approaches and government policies that have an intended or unintended effect on the ongoing overdose epidemic.

Introduction: In response to the current overdose epidemic, a number of different legal approaches and government policies have been implemented regarding prescription drugs, illicit substances, and drug use. Additionally, other legal approaches and government policies that do not directly target the overdose crisis (eg, cannabis legalization) may have unintentional effects on opioid use-related harms. The findings of this review will inform policy-makers and individuals working at the forefront of the overdose crisis to help them anticipate the consequences of legal approaches already in place or those that have been recently implemented.

Inclusion Criteria: This review will include all legal approaches or government policies that have an intended or unintended effect on the overdose epidemic or on opioid use-related harms or mortality. Only studies published in English from 2000 onward will be included.

Methods: We will search health sciences databases, legal databases, and social sciences databases to ensure comprehensive identification of studies across disciplines. Two independent team members will screen titles and abstracts, and review full-text articles for potential inclusion. One team member will extract data for all studies, and a second team member will verify the data extraction. The results will be presented as a narrative synthesis and in tabular or diagrammatic form.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.11124/JBISRIR-D-19-00296DOI Listing
January 2021

Syndemic profiles of people living with hepatitis C virus using population-level latent class analysis to optimize health services.

Int J Infect Dis 2020 Nov 15;100:27-33. Epub 2020 Aug 15.

School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada; BC Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada; Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: Hepatitis C (HCV) affects diverse populations such as people who inject drugs (PWID), 'baby boomers,' gay/bisexual men who have sex with men (gbMSM), and people from HCV endemic regions. Assessing HCV syndemics (i.e.relationships with mental health/chronic diseases) among subpopulations using Latent Class Analysis (LCA) may facilitate targeted program planning.

Methods: The BC Hepatitis Testers Cohort(BC-HTC) includes all HCV cases identified in BC between 1990 and 2015, integrated with medical administrative data. LCA grouped all BC-HTC HCV diagnosed people(n = 73,665) by socio-demographic/clinical indicators previously determined to be relevant for HCV outcomes. The final model was chosen based on fit statistics, epidemiological meaningfulness, and posterior probability. Classes were named by most defining characteristics.

Results: The six-class model was the best fit and had the following names and characteristics: 'Younger PWID'(n =11,563): recent IDU (67%), people born >1974 (48%), mental illness (62%), material deprivation (59%). 'Older PWID'(n =15,266): past IDU (78%), HIV (17%), HBV (17%) coinfections, alcohol misuse(68%). 'Other Middle-Aged People'(n = 9019): gbMSM (26%), material privilege (31%), people born between 1965-1974 (47%). 'People of Asian backgrounds' (n = 4718): East/South Asians (92%), no alcohol misuse (97%) or mental illness (93%), people born <1945 (26%), social privilege (66%). 'Rural baby boomers' (n = 20,401): rural dwellers (32%), baby boomers (79%), heterosexuals (99%), no HIV (100%). 'Urban socially deprived baby boomers' (n = 12,698): urban dwellers (99%), no IDU (100%), liver disease (22%), social deprivation (94%).

Conclusions: Differences between classes suggest variability in patients' service needs. Further analysis of health service utilization patterns may inform optimal service layout.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2020.08.035DOI Listing
November 2020

Overdose and risk factors for coronavirus disease 2019.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2020 07 8;212:108047. Epub 2020 May 8.

BC Centre for Disease Control, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, 655 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4R4, Canada.

Background: There have been significant efforts to respond to the two public health emergencies of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and overdose in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The purpose of this study was to quantify the prevalence of known risk factors associated with mortality due to COVID-19 for persons who have had a non-fatal overdose during 2015-2017 in comparison to persons who have not had an overdose.

Methods: Data were extracted from the BC Provincial Overdose Cohort which includes a 20 % random sample of BC residents and persons who have had a non-fatal overdose in BC from January 2015 to December 2017. Chi-square tests and logistic regression were used to compare risk factors by overdose history.

Results: Persons who had a non-fatal overdose were significantly more likely to have three (chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes, coronary heart disease) of the four known chronic conditions associated with the development of severe illness due to COVID-19 compared to persons who did not have a previous non-fatal overdose event.

Conclusion: Persons who had an overdose were more likely to have several chronic conditions associated with the development of severe illness due to COVID-19. The increased likelihood of having these risk factors is reflective of the social and health inequities experienced by persons who have a history of overdose.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108047DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7206446PMC
July 2020

Characterizing motivations for cannabis use in a cohort of people who use illicit drugs: A latent class analysis.

PLoS One 2020 21;15(5):e0233463. Epub 2020 May 21.

British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Background: Cannabis use is common among marginalized people who use illicit drugs (PWUD) but reasons for use remain poorly investigated. We sought to explore how different intentions for cannabis use relate to social, structural, and behavioural factors among PWUD in Vancouver, Canada.

Methods: We used data from cannabis-using participants in two community-recruited prospective cohort studies of PWUD. Using latent class analysis, we identified discrete cannabis-using groups based on self-reported intentions for use. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine correlates of class membership.

Results: Between June 2016 and December 2018, 2,686 observations from 897 participants cannabis-using PWUD were analyzed. Four latent classes of cannabis use emerged: Class 1 (31.6%), characterized by non-medical purposes; Class 2 (37.5%), characterized by non-pain therapeutic use (e.g., stress, nausea/loss of appetite, and insomnia); characterized by Class 3 (21.9%) predominantly pain relief; and Class 4 (9.0%), characterized by a wide range of therapeutic uses in addition to pain management, including insomnia, stress, nausea/loss of appetite, and harm reduction. Class-specific structural, substance-, and health-related differences were observed, including indicators of better physical and mental health among the "recreational" class, despite evidence of more structural vulnerabilities (e.g., homelessness, incarceration).

Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate a wide spectrum of motivations for cannabis use among PWUD. We observed important health-related differences between latent classes, demonstrating possible unmet healthcare needs among PWUD reporting therapeutic cannabis use. These findings inform ongoing policy surrounding access to cannabis for harm reduction purposes and applications of medical cannabis for PWUD.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0233463PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7241718PMC
August 2020

Don't forget our dual public health crises.

CJEM 2020 07;22(4):E8

From the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada; School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/cem.2020.369DOI Listing
July 2020