Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2022
People who inject drugs are at increased risk of multiple negative health consequences related to
injecting drug use, including blood-borne virus transmission via the sharing of injecting equipment
and opioid drug overdose risk. Australian surveillance data reports prevalence of hepatitis C virus
and HIV at 16% and 2.5% respectively, with 17% of respondents reporting past 12-month non-fatal
Despite decades of research, opioid overdose and blood-borne virus transmission are persistent
public health issues among people who inject drugs. Novel and innovative methods, such as
biometric monitoring and ecological momentary assessment, have been proposed to address the
inherent limitations of retrospective data collection based on participant recall.
In this paper, we present the protocol for the In-The-Moment (ITM) pilot, whereby multiple
innovative data collection methods will be piloted among a sample of people who inject drugs to
better understand the circumstances surrounding injecting drug use and drug overdose.
Over a three-month study period (planned for August-October), 50 participants will be asked to
consistently wear a biometric device (similar to a wristwatch) to capture oxygen saturation and pulse
rate data. Participants will also be provided with a smartphone to complete short-form, web-based
electronic questionnaires following every injecting episode to capture information related to drug
use and injecting risk. Finally, participants will also be asked to return their used needles/syringes for
drug residue testing.
The ITM-pilot protocol provides crucial information on the feasibility of innovative measurements of
drug use behaviours and their relationship to a range of biological measures.
To better tailor public health interventions to address ongoing drug overdose and injecting risk
behaviour, a more comprehensive understanding is needed of the in-situ circumstances surrounding
injecting drug use. The ITM-pilot will provide new insights into risks associated with injecting drug
Disclosure of Interest Statement:
PH receives investigator-initiated research funding support from Gilead Sciences and Abbvie. PD has
received an investigator-driven grant from Gilead Sciences for unrelated work on hepatitis C and an
untied educational grant from Reckitt Benckiser for unrelated work on the introduction of
buprenorphine-naloxone into Australia. He has served as an unpaid member on an Advisory Board
for an intranasal naloxone product.