Study: Getting the Message Straight: Effects of a Brief Hepatitis Prevention Intervention Among Injection Drug Users
February 12, 2010
Toward the goal of redressing gaps in the knowledge of injection drug users (IDUs) about hepatitis risk and prevention, the researchers developed a brief intervention for delivery at syringe-exchange programs (SEPs) in three US cities. Packets containing novel injection hygiene supplies and written materials were distributed to every client at each visit. After one month, effectiveness was evaluated by comparing the self-reported injection practices of participants who were exposed to the intervention versus those who were not.
More than one-quarter of the exposed group began using the novel hygiene supplies, which included an absorbent pad ("Safety Square") to staunch blood flow after injection. Compared to IDUs not exposed to the intervention, a smaller but substantial number of exposed subjects continued the inappropriate use of alcohol pads after injection, despite exposure to written messages to the contrary (22.8 percent vs. 30.0 percent). Of those exposed to the intervention, 8 percent may have misused the Safety Squares as part of pre-injection site preparation. "Attention should be paid to providing explicit and accurate instruction on the use of any health promotion materials being distributed," the authors noted.
"While this study indicates that passive introduction of risk reduction materials in [IDUs] through [SEPs] can be an economical and relatively simple method of changing behaviors, discussions with SEP clients regarding explicit instructions about injection hygiene and appropriate use of novel risk reduction materials is also needed in order to optimize the potential for adoption of health promotion behaviors," the researchers concluded. "The study results suggest that SEP staff should provide their clients with brief, frequent verbal reminders about the appropriate use when distributing risk reduction materials."
Harm Reduction Journal
12.15.2009; 6:36doi:10.1186.1477-7517-6-36; Lauretta E. Grau, Traci C. Green, Merrill Singer, Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Patricia A. Marshall, Robert Heimer