Changing Attitudes of the General Public Towards People With Prison and Injecting Drug Use Histories: A Research-Informed, Co-Designed, Arts-Based Intervention

Author: Carla Treloar Timothy Broady Kerryn Drysdale Loren Brener Sophia Schroeder Lise Lafferty Alison Marshall Paul Dietze Peter Higgs Mark Stoove Eileen Baldry Peter

Theme: Social Science & Policy Research Year: 2022

Introduction: Community attitudes contribute to stigma and social exclusion of people with prison and injecting drug use histories. Interventions that positively impact community attitudes are important to strengthen efforts to reduce recidivism.
Method: Data from an interview study of post-release experiences were used to produce a narrative script on the theme of exhaustion following release from prison. Members of the general public were recruited via a Qualtrics panel for a three armed randomised controlled trial: (1) control (no exposure to the script); (2) narrative intervention (plain English description); (3) enhanced narrative intervention (script performed by a person with lived experience). Surveys were administered at baseline, post-intervention (for arms 2 and 3) and at three-month followup covering four key dimensions (attitudes, social distance, opinions and empathy). Qualitative interviews were conducted with 23 participants in arm 3 to further investigate attitudes to the enhanced narrative intervention.
Results: 1071 participants completed follow-up surveys (approximately n=350 per arm). At post-intervention, participants in the enhanced narrative intervention arm reported more positive scores on outcome measures than the plain English and control arms. There was no evidence of any differences between intervention arms at three month follow-up. Qualitative data indicated that perceptions of the controllability of drug use were important to participants who reported not being influenced by the narrative intervention.
Discussions and Conclusions: Research-informed, co-designed, arts-based interventions can positively impact attitudes of the general public towards highly stigmatized groups more so than plain English research findings. However, ongoing interventions are required to maintain attitude change over time.
Disclosure of Interest Statement: CT has received speakers’ fees from Abbvie and Gilead and research funding from Merck for research unrelated to this work. PH has received investigator-initiated research funding from Gilead Sciences and Abbvie Pharmaceuticals for research not connected to this manuscript. TB has received speaker fees from Gilead. MS is the recipient of a NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (Commonwealth Government) and has received investigator-initiated funding from Gilead Sciences, AbbVie and Bristol Myers Squibb, and consultant fees from Gilead Sciences, for research unrelated to this work. PD is funded by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellowship and has received investigator-driven research funding from Gilead Sciences for work on hepatitis C unrelated to this study. PD has served as an unpaid member of an Advisory Board for an intranasal naloxone product. LL has received speaker fees from Abbvie. KD, ADM, LB, EB and SS have nothing to declare. TB has received speaker fees from Gilead. This research is supported under National Health and Medical Research Council Project grant (APP1124368). SuperMIX was funded by the Colonial Foundation Trust and the NHMRC (#545891, #1136908). The Burnet Institute is supported by the Victorian Operational Infrastructure Support Program.

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