Staff’s Attitudes Toward Injecting Drug Users And Hepatitis C.

Author: Malaguti A, Power K, Swanson V, Eriksen A

Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2017

Background: People who inject drugs (PWID) often experience discrimination when seeking healthcare. Hepatitis C (HCV) has become a highly stigmatised condition within the general population and healthcare settings because of its association to injecting drug use.
According to the Theory of Planned Behaviour, attitudes can influence behaviours. Research on stigmatised populations has shown that contact-time between healthcare workers and drug users can reduce prejudice.
This study compares attitudes towards HCV and PWID in three staff groups working with this population: pharmacy workers; nurses; and support workers.

Methods: The study is a cross-sectional design using an online questionnaire to test attitudes towards PWID and HCV in a sample of healthcare staff volunteers. In total, 75 participants completed the survey: 15 pharmacy staff, 35 nurses and 25 support workers.
A 20-item 5-point Likert scale on attitudes towards HCV, injecting drug use and perceived controllability was adapted from previous research and distributed online via SurveyMonkey.

Results: A non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis H test was run to compare attitudes on all three constructs (hepatitis C, injecting drug users and perceived controllability) between the three staff groups. Dunn-Bonferroni pairwise comparisons showed which group differed significantly.
Significant differences were detected among staff in attitudes towards injecting drug users, with χ 2 (2) = 6.11, p= .047. Differences lie between pharmacy staff and nurses with small effect size of epsilon squared=0.09. Significant differences were also detected in controllability scores, with χ 2 (2) = 8.10, p= .017. Differences lie between pharmacy and support staff with small effect size of epsilon squared=0.12.

Conclusions: The current findings show positive attitudes towards HCV and PWID among staff. However, results also suggest all staff groups’ knowledge and understanding of this population can differ between groups and some staff might benefit from training on perceived controllability of drug use and behavioural models of addiction.

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