Perspectives of People who use Drugs on Safer Supply: A concept mapping study

Funding body

Health Canada Substance Use and Addictions Program.


British Columbia (BC) is experiencing two declared public health emergencies, illicit drug poisoning deaths and COVID 19. In the wake of COVID 19, BC introduced Risk Mitigation Guidance to facilitate implementation of COVID precautions and provide prescribed alternatives to a deadly illicit drug market. The purpose of this research was to develop a model for effective safer supply programs from the perspective of people who use drugs. Within a patient oriented and community-based research approach, we used concept mapping to generate a model of safer supply. Concept mapping is a structured process that begins with a focus prompt to guide brainstorming. The focus prompt for this research was ‘Safer supply would work well if...”

Progress to date

In the fall of 2020 we held a series of focus groups with 35 people who use drugs. During the initial brainstorming focus groups over 350 statements were generated. These were refined by the team to 68 unique statements. A During a second focus group, participants sorted the 68 statements sorted into groups and later rated by participants. Multi-dimensional scaling was used to generate six cluster maps that were reviewed by participants. Presentations of this work have been provided nationally (CPHA, CAHSPR) provincially and regionally. These results have informed developed of the VIC Safer Initiative. A practice bulletin featuring the VIC Safer Initiative has been produced to inform role of prescribed safer supply initiatives in BC and a publication is in development. A postcard and checklist were also produced.


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