Publications & Reports

The Melbourne safe injecting room attracted people most in need of its service.

Van Den Boom W, Del Mar Quiroga M, Fetene DM, Agius PA, Higgs PG, Maher L, Hickman M, Stoové MA, Dietze PM


Introduction: In 2018, the first Medically Supervised Injecting Room in Melbourne, Australia was officially opened. This study assessed whether this facility attracted people who inject drugs, who were socially vulnerable, and who engaged in drug-related behaviors associated with increased morbidity and mortality risk.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional analysis of the frequency of Medically Supervised Injecting Room use during the first 18 months after opening (July 2018-December 2019) among 658 people who inject drugs participating in the Melbourne Injecting Drug User Cohort Study (SuperMIX). To examine the differences between no Medically Supervised Injecting Room use, infrequent use (<50% injections within the facility), and frequent use (≥50% of injections within the facility), RRRs were estimated using bivariate multinomial logistic regression analyses and postestimation Wald tests. Analyses were conducted in 2020.

Results: A total of 451 participants (68%) reported no Medically Supervised Injecting Room use, 142 (22%) reported infrequent use, and 65 (10%) reported frequent use. Participants who reported either infrequent or frequent use of the facility were more socially vulnerable (e.g., more often homeless) and more likely to report risky drug-related behaviors and poor health outcomes than those who reported no use. Participants who reported frequent use of the facility were also more likely to live close to the facility than those reporting infrequent use.

Conclusions: The Melbourne Medically Supervised Injecting Room attracted socially marginalized people who inject drugs who are most at risk of harms related to injecting drug use and therefore who are most in need of the service. To determine the long-term impact use of this facility on key health outcomes such as overdose, future studies should consider the differences in vulnerability and risk behavior of people who inject drugs who use the Medically Supervised Injecting Room when examining the outcomes associated with the use of the facility.

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