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ID: 694

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Research

Topics: Harm Reduction Services and Service Provision

Presenting author: Heather Morris

Presenting author biography:

Heather Morris MN RN, is a PhD student in the School of Public Health, University of Alberta, specializing in health services and policy research. She is a former public health nurse whose current research interests relate to the role of parents in advocating for harm reduction policy.

The Addiction Recovery & Community Health team: Patient perspectives on harm reduction practice in acute care

Heather Morris, Ginetta Salvalaggio, Stacie Lee Lockerbie, Jalene Anderson-Baron, Lara Nixon, Kathryn Dong, Elaine Hyshka

Background: The Addiction Recovery & Community Health (ARCH) team is a multidisciplinary consultation service at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, Canada. The team is comprised of a physician, a nurse practitioner, social worker, peer support worker and addiction counselor and is committed to improving the acute care experience for socially marginalized people experiencing drug and alcohol problems. The ARCH team is guided by a harm reduction philosophy; it provides effective withdrawal and pain management, voluntary addiction treatment initiation, access to harm reduction supplies, health promotion interventions and streamlined access to health and social services in the community. Its members also advocate for patients, and offer social support during hospitalization and post-discharge. We conducted a qualitative process evaluation to examine patients’ perspectives on the ARCH team, and develop insight into program implementation, functioning, and contextual factors that enhance or hinder the team’s effectiveness.

Methods:. Adopting a focused ethnographic approach, we conducted 21 semi-structured interviews with patients who had experienced the ARCH team’s services. The semi-structured interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim, and latent content analysis was employed to extract key themes.

Results: Patients indicated that the most salient aspect of the ARCH team was their compassionate and respectful manner. This included being non-judgmental, building trust, enhancing patient autonomy and shared decision-making, and instilling hope. More work, however, is needed to support other hospital staff in adopting a harm reduction approach.

Conclusion: Findings clearly demonstrate the importance of the patient-provider relationship in working with acute care patients experiencing problematic drug and alcohol use. Results will inform further hospital policy and practice changes. Abstract is part of a special session-harm reduction in hospitals.