UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Hunger and associated harms among injection drug users in an urban Canadian setting Anema, Aranka; Wood, Evan; Weiser, Sheri D; Qi, Jiezhi; Montaner, Julio S; Kerr, Thomas


Background: Food insufficiency is often associated with health risks and adverse outcomes among marginalized populations. However, little is known about correlates of food insufficiency among injection drug users (IDU). Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study to examine the prevalence and correlates of self-reported hunger in a large cohort of IDU in Vancouver, Canada. Food insufficiency was defined as reporting "I am hungry, but don't eat because I can't afford enough food". Logistic regression was used to determine independent socio-demographic and drug-use characteristics associated with food insufficiency. Results: Among 1,053 participants, 681 (64.7%) reported being hungry and unable to afford enough food. Self-reported hunger was independently associated with: unstable housing (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 1.68, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.20 - 2.36, spending ≥ $50/day on drugs (AOR: 1.43, 95% CI: 1.06 - 1.91), and symptoms of depression (AOR: 3.32, 95% CI: 2.45 - 4.48). Conclusion: These findings suggest that IDU in this setting would likely benefit from interventions that work to improve access to food and social support services, including addiction treatment programs which may reduce the adverse effect of ongoing drug use on hunger.

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