New tools from UBC Nursing aim to improve care for those experiencing substance use stigma – News


A version of this article originally appeared on UBC News.

Stigma and discrimination associated with substance use, known as substance use stigma, directly contribute to significant harm and barriers to care. Due to widespread negative attitudes towards substance use problems, people are often treated in a disrespectful or discriminatory manner in health care settings.

Today, a team of researchers from UBC’s Faculty of Applied Science and Western University are offering a series of tools and strategies to ensure that people who experience substance use stigma can receive better care in the future.

“Stigma and discrimination make it very difficult for people to seek care, especially if they are Indigenous or if they are thought to have a history of substance use,” says researcher Dr. Colleen Varcoe principal and professor emeritus in the UBC School of Nursing. “They expect to be judged, looked down upon, or denied care because they’re supposed to be ‘faking it’ or looking for drugs.”

The new tools, strategies and resources, called EQUIP Equity Action Kitto understand:

  • Organizational planning tools and report cards to help organizations assess themselves for substance use health, as well as steps to address stigma and reduce racism towards Indigenous peoples and other people victims of discrimination.
  • Videos and tools that highlight the effects of substance use stigma and how to adopt strategies to address it, including how to identify barriers to care and how to change stigmatizing language.
  • Self-directed online learning modules on what equity-focused healthcare means and how healthcare professionals can deliver services in a culturally safe, trauma- and violence-informed way

“The action kit fosters engagement with people who have experiences of stigma and poor care, which means their voice is always heard and prioritized,” says project co-director Dr. the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing at Western University. . “These tools support large-scale implementation efforts to catalyze organizational and systemic change and improve health and social services and health outcomes.”

The project is part of Equip Health Care, a key initiative of the EQUIP research program at UBC, Western and University of Northern British Columbia that develops initiatives to improve health equity in health and social care settings. .

“We have partnered with health and social service providers and people with lived experience to develop tips, strategies and resources to improve pathways to care for people experiencing stigma related to substance use and related types of discrimination. A key aim is to help organisations, staff and providers provide care that is non-judgmental, and that will encourage people to seek help when they need it – not avoid seeking help. says the project’s co-director, Dr. Annette Browne, a professor of nursing at UBC.

Project partners include the Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA), a national organization that works to ensure people have equitable access to services and supports when seeking care for their addiction-related health, free of stigma nor discrimination.

“Together with EQUIP, we’re creating tools, informed by our lived experience, to eliminate stigma and the harms it causes,” says Gord Garner, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at CAPSA. “Put simply, Equip Health Care is stepping up by working in true partnership to create resources that have the power to transform the way we compassionately care for and support people.” Garner encourages all healthcare providers to take advantage of this opportunity and use the tools to improve their care for those working in substance use health.

Other project partners include Pain BC, Kílala Lelum, the London InterCommunity Health Center and the Vancouver Community Action Team. The team has undertaken the French adaptation of some tools and is seeking additional funding to translate the entire action kit.

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