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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: Evaluation of Syringe Markers Distributed Through Community Pharmacy Needle Exchanges
Author(s): Hunter, Carole
Supervisor(s): McIvor, Gill
Keywords: community pharmacy, needle exchange, syringe markers, hepatitis C, peer researchers,
Issue Date: Oct-2012
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The aim of this study is to evaluate the supply of markers for the identification of syringes distributed by pharmacy needle exchanges and to determine if this product and service delivery offers a feasible method of marking syringes to promote the reduction of accidental sharing of syringes and needles amongst injecting drug users (IDU) and thereby reduce the risk of transmission of blood borne viruses (BBVs) and other related infections. This study involves the assessment, implementation and evaluation of syringe markers as a pilot study within three community pharmacy sites in Glasgow. The secondary aims of the study were to identify whether the supply of syringe markers from community pharmacy needle exchanges was acceptable to IDU and if it enabled them to mark their syringes. The literature review demonstrates that providing a means of identification of personal injecting equipment has been proposed as a viable option that should be promoted to prevent the inadvertent accidental sharing of syringes within a group setting. Needle exchanges (NEX) are important component parts of the harm reduction responses designed to reduce the physical health harms caused to individuals through injecting drug use. The literature is reviewed on BBV transmission and the historical, legal and policy context associated with the development of NEXs. Community pharmacies act as a source of health advice and can help to facilitate access to treatment services for those attending the NEX. However the specific aim of this study is not to investigate the totality of the benefits of a NEX but to examine the supply of a potential means of reducing accidental and unintentional sharing of all injecting equipment and thereby contribute to minimising some of the health harms linked to injecting drug use. Three established community pharmacies were identified as suitable sites to pilot the supply of syringe markers. A number of criteria were used to select the sites. These included an assessment of the geographic locations, staffing arrangements, NEX attendances and transactional activity and the availability of private consultation facilities. The health board central database which holds records on a range of factors including, the characteristics of those who attend NEX and detailed information on all transactions, was used to identify the most suitable sites to pilot the new intervention. This indicated that the characteristics of those who attended the three chosen sites were broadly similar to the wider NEX attending population. The evaluation was conducted in two separate periods. The first 4 week period was the supply phase where markers were distributed over this period to all patients receiving NEX packs from the 3 pharmacies. The second data collection phase was undertaken in the following 4 week period. Data was collected by means of a structured questionnaire. In order to reduce the potential interviewer bias it was decided to incorporate the use of peer researchers in the administration of the questionnaire. The Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF) was approached and agreement was reached to use members of the Service User Involvement Group (SUIG) to assist with the design and administration of the questionnaire. A submission was made to the health board Research Ethics Committee (REC) and approval was given to enable the study and the research evaluation to proceed. Before the start of the study, joint briefing and training sessions were held for pharmacy staff from the 3 sites and the 6 participating SUIG members. A total of 177 questionnaires were completed during the second data collection phase of the evaluation. Information was collected on personal details and injecting behaviours (including deliberate and accidental sharing), any current means of syringe identification, use of the markers and on the usefulness of the instruction card. Most individuals (75%, n=132) had been supplied with the markers to trial during the first supply phase of the study with 63% of the 132 (n=83) of those individuals reporting use of the markers. The results of the evaluation and subsequent analysis of the findings indicated that the syringe marker supply could be successfully implemented using pharmacy NEXs. The product and the supply method were acceptable to both staff and service users. Initial bivariate analysis was conducted using a number of dependent and independent variables identified within the questionnaire. These findings highlighted a number of areas worthy of further exploration, including emerging differences between male and female respondents, and indicated specific target groups for future developments in syringe identification. The contribution of the peer researchers was found to be a significant factor in successfully completing the evaluation. However it is not possible to make any definitive statements on how effective the intervention is in terms of reducing the transmission of BBVs and other related infections. The findings of the evaluation indicated a number of potential areas of work that could be usefully explored to investigate the effectiveness of the markers in reducing the transmission of infections. The limitations of the evaluation became apparent during the course of the study and the implications of these limitations are discussed.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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