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Led by the Saskatoon Health Region and community partners, the Building Relationships with Injection Drug Users for Greater Engagement (BRIDGE) partnership was established in 2005. The partnership brings diverse stakeholders together in collaboration around issues relevant to populations affected by substance use. The partnership is built on a model of population health promotion that acknowledges the role of multiple determinants of health across all levels of society in health and health outcomes.

The goals of BRIDGE are:

  • To IMPROVE the continuity of care for individuals coping with substance use, particularly injection drug use
  • To RESPOND to the disproportionate burden of substance use and HIV/AIDS among Aboriginal populations
  • To PROVIDE a supportive networking environment for organizations and service providers working with populations affected by injection drug use to allow such organizations or service providers to achieve their own goals and objectives.

The most recent community meeting was held in March, 2014. Updates and information was shared on the Saskatoon Health region 2013 HIV Epi Update, Plan to End Homelessness, Break the Cycle Campaign, Methadone/Detox/Stabalization, HIV & Hepatitis C Support Groups, Harm Reduction Supplies, AIDS Saskatoon Intensive Family Support Program, Condom Distribution Project & HIV Hospice Proposal. A report of the meeting is available here.

To achieve BRIDGE’s goals, 4 community pillars were established: harm reduction, health promotion & primary prevention, treatment, and enforcement. Dr. Dell was the chair of the health promotion pillar & primary prevention working group. This pillar focused on preventing substance use and promoting health among those communities affected by substance use. This working group built on a model for population health promotion that examines determinants of health across all levels of society. With seed funding from the project grant and the Office of the Research Chair in Substance Abuse, the health promotion and primary prevention pillar focused its efforts on developing an innovative, community-based gender and diversity sensitive 45  minute educational workshop for service providers that addressed the role of stigma (that is, negative attitudes and behaviours) in accessing health services by people who inject drugs. The goal was two-fold:  (1) to reduce the sigma service providers may  have toward those who inject drugs; and (2) to provide hope to individuals who inject drugs through the sharing of their voices and capacity development. The guiding principle of the workshop is captured in the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.  While the working group was not able to secure programming funding for this project, U of S Interdisciplinary Studies PhD student Olubusola Adelugba has furthered the idea for her dissertation research -Exploring Health Care Providers’ Approaches with Individuals who Inject Drugs in a Health Region in Saskatchewan.

Partnership between the Health Promotion and Primary Prevention and Treatment pillars has resulted in publications and presentations:

K. Lang, J. Neil, J. Wright, C. Dell, S. Berenbaum, A. El-Aneed. 2013. “Qualitative Investigation of Barriers to Accessing Care by People Who Inject Drugs in Saskatoon, Canada: Perspectives of Service Providers.” Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. 8:35. pp. 1-11

K. Lang, A. El-Aneed, S. Berenbaum, C. Dell, J. Wright, Z. Teed McKay. 2011. “Qualitative Assessment of Crisis Services among Persons Using Injection Drugs in the City of Saskatoon”. Journal of Substance Use.  pp. 1-9.

J. Neil, K. Lang, C. Dell, J. Wright, S. Berenbaum, A. El-Aneed. 2011. “Qualitative Investigation of the Experiences of Service Providers Providing Care to Injection Drug Users in Saskatoon Health Region”. Issues of Substance Conference, Vancouver, BC.

K. Lang, A. El-Aneed,  J. Wright,  C. Dell, Z. TeedJ. Bauer. 2009. “Building Bridges:  Qualitative Assessment  of  Crisis  Services Among  Persons Using Injection  Drugs”. Issues of Substance, Halifax, NS.  K. Lang awarded CIHR student poster award.

Research Assistant, Roisin Unsworth, presented on the project at the 2010 Innovations in Qualitative Research Conference in Saskatoon.