UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Women’s multiple uses of an overdose prevention technology to mitigate risks and harms within a supportive housing environment: a qualitative study Bardwell, Geoff; Fleming, Taylor; McNeil, Ryan, 1982-; Boyd, Jade


Background North America is amidst an opioid overdose epidemic. In many settings, particularly Canada, the majority of overdose deaths occur indoors and impact structurally vulnerable people who use drugs alone, making targeted housing-based interventions a priority. Mobile applications have been developed that allow individuals to solicit help to prevent overdose death. We examine the experiences of women residents utilizing an overdose response button technology within a supportive housing environment. Methods In October 2019, we conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 14 residents of a women-only supportive housing building in an urban setting where the overdose response button technology was installed. Data was analyzed thematically and framed by theories of structural vulnerability. Results While participants described the utility and disadvantages of the technology for overdose response, most participants, unexpectedly described alternate adoptions of the technology. Participants used the technology for other emergency situations (e.g., gender-based violence), rather than its intended purpose of overdose response. Conclusions Our findings highlight the limitations of current technologies while also demonstrating the clear need for housing-based emergency response interventions that address not just overdose risk but also gender-based violence. These need to be implemented alongside larger strategies to address structural vulnerabilities and provide greater agency to marginalized women who use drugs.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)