Dr Lindsey Hines

Lindsey A. Hines completed her PhD in Psychiatric Epidemiology (National Addiction Centre, King’s College London) and is a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow in Population Health Sciences at the University of Bristol, UK. Her research expertise is in the epidemiology of drug use, with a focus on the causes and consequences of use during adolescence. Her fellowship explores the pathways between early life experiences, frequent drug use in adolescence, and mental health problems in later life. By conducting complex causal inference analysis of large, longitudinal cohorts, she aims to produce work with practical utility for informing mental health intervention.

Living Under Coronavirus and Injecting Drugs in Bristol (LUCID-B): findings from qualitative interviews with People Who Inject Drugs

Aims: During the COVID-19 pandemic, People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) were a high-risk group for virus transmission and for serious health consequences as a result of pre-existing conditions. As a result of the restrictions imposed on the UK, drug treatment services had to rapidly alter their provision; the consequences of these rapid changes were unknown. We explored the challenges faced by PWID during the COVID-19 pandemic, and experiences of drug use and treatment during this time.

Methods: Research was undertaken in partnership with Bristol Drugs Project, who recruited 28 participants (Bristol, UK) through service contact and street outreach. Telephone qualitative interviews were conducted by researchers. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Nine (32%) of the participants were female; 15 (54%) were recruited via outreach and the others via fixed-site or delivery services; 23 (82%) were receiving opioid substitution therapy (OST); 19 (67%) were in emergency accommodation. Challenges included difficulties accessing OST/Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP) at pharmacies, isolation, loss of income, and observing social distancing in accommodation and pharmacy contexts. Changes in frequency of use were reported; increasing for some (boredom, exacerbated mental health issues) but decreasing for others (availability, lack of contact with others). Changes to service delivery were discussed, including the switch to non-daily OST pick up and telephone support.

Conclusion: The implications are relevant nationally and internationally for pandemic response planning, providing insight for adaptations to drug treatment, support for residents in hostel and hotel accommodation, and additional treatment and harm reduction needs.

Presentation slides:
Living Under Coronavirus and Injecting Drugs in Bristol (LUCID-B): findings from qualitative interviews with People Who Inject Drugs