Peer engagement in harm reduction: development, implementation and evaluation of best practice guidelines for British Columbia
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jane Buxton, BC Centre for Disease Control, School Population and Public Health, UBC
Partner Organization(s): BC Harm Reduction Services and Strategies Committee; Regional Health Authorities; Provincial Health Services; BC Ministry of Health; BC First Nations Health Authority
People who use drugs, also known as ‘peers’, are more likely to experience poor health outcomes and to die prematurely, negatively impacting individuals, families and society. Harm reduction programs are internationally accepted as effective for reducing harms and health disparities associated with drug use. However, there are large variations in the availability, accessibility, acceptability and utilization of harm reduction programs across British Columbia.
Working in partnership with peers can reduce these inequities by making the program and services relevant and responsive to peer needs, removing barriers such as stigma and discrimination, and increasing uptake of harm reduction services. As public health researchers and staff from the University of British Columbia, the BC Centre for Disease Control, and the BC Harm Reduction Services and Strategies Committee, we aim to engage peers as the experts, establish best practice guidelines for peer engagement, and to develop an enhanced peer network in BC.