UBC Faculty Research and Publications

High prevalence of unmet healthcare need among people who use illicit drugs in a Canadian setting with publicly-funded interdisciplinary primary care clinics Moallef, Soroush; Homayra, Fahmida; Milloy, M-J; Bird, Lorna; Nosyk, Bohdan; Hayashi, Kanna


Background—People who use illicit drugs (PWUD) experience significant barriers to healthcare. However, little is known about levels of attachment to primary care (defined as having a regular family doctor or clinic they feel comfortable with) and its association with unmet healthcare needs in this population. In a Canadian setting that features novel publiclyfunded interdisciplinary primary care clinics, we sought to examine the prevalence and correlates (including attachment to primary care) of unmet healthcare needs among PWUD. Methods—Data were derived from two prospective cohort studies of PWUD in Vancouver, Canada between December 2017 and November 2018. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with self-reported unmet healthcare needs among participants reporting any health issues. Results—In total, 743 (83.6%) of 889 eligible participants reported attachment to primary care and 220 (24.7%) reported an unmet healthcare need. In multivariable analyses, attachment to primary care at an integrated care clinic (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.14; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 0.06–0.34) was negatively associated with an unmet healthcare need, while being treated poorly at a healthcare facility (AOR = 5.50; 95% CI: 3.59–8.60) and self-reported chronic pain (AOR = 2.00, 95% CI: 1.30–3.01) were positively associated with an unmet healthcare need. Conclusion—Despite the high level of attachment to primary care, a quarter of our sample reported an unmet healthcare need. Our findings suggest that multi-level interventions are required to address the unmet need, including pain management and integrated care, to support PWUD with complex health needs.

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