Previous evidence suggests that individuals using opioids are at high risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and blood-borne viruses (BBV) (i.e. HIV, and Hepatitis B and C), being women particularly at risk. Most public health strategies aimed at opioid users have focused on safe drug use, but have overlooked sexual contact as a main source of infection. Community pharmacies will be the setting for this service, due to their accessibility and current provision of other services for individuals receiving opioid substitution treatment (OST).
The main aim of this study is to design and pilot a service to promote safe sex among women who are receiving opioid substitution treatment in community pharmacies.
A mixed-methods approach will be used for this study, comprising four cumulative and iterative phases, based on the Intervention Mapping approach to planning health promotion programmes. These phases are 1) Needs assessment; 2) Identification of programme outcomes and objectives; 3) Theory-based methods and practical strategies for behaviour change; and 4) Development and pre-test of programme materials. This study started in September 2015 and will be finalised by January 2019.
This study will be carried out at the University of Bath. Data will be collected at the university, community centres, drug and sexual health services, and community pharmacies in the areas of Bath and Bristol.
An important focus of this research will be on co-designing the service with its potential users and implementers. Thus, up to 30 women receiving opioid substitution treatment, and 20 community pharmacists will be involved throughout the study.
Longitudinal data will be collected over two years using semi-structured interviews, focus groups and questionnaires.
Impact of the research
This study will aim to address the need for developing services in community pharmacy and for women receiving OST, with a focus on the significance of sexual transmission of STIs and BBVs and safe sex promotion.
Miss Laura Medina-Perucha, PhD Candidate, Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, University of Bath; Dr Charlotte Dack, Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Bath; Hannah Family, Lecturer, Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, University of Bath; Dr Jennifer Scott, Senior Lecturer, Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, University of Bath; Professor Julie Barnett, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Bath.
Conflicts of interest:
Funding Sources: PhD scholarship, University of Bath
No conflict of interest.