Harm reduction, methadone maintenance treatment and the root causes of health and social inequities: An intersectional lens in the Canadian context. – Smye, Victoria L., Browne, Annette J., Varcoe, Colleen M., & Josewski, Viviane. (2011).

Smye, Victoria L., Browne, Annette J., Varcoe, Colleen M., & Josewski, Viviane. (2011). Harm reduction, methadone maintenance treatment and the root causes of health and social inequities: An intersectional lens in the Canadian context. Harm Reduction Journal, 8(1), 17. doi: 10.1186/1477-7517-8-17

Abstract from Authors:

Background:

Using our research findings, we explore Harm Reduction and Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) using an intersectional lens to provide a more complex understanding of Harm Reduction and MMT, particularly how Harm Reduction and MMT are experienced differently by people dependent on how they are positioned. Using the lens of intersectionality, we refine the notion of Harm Reduction by specifying the conditions in which both harm and benefit arise and how experiences of harm are continuous with wider experiences of domination and oppression;

Methods:

A qualitative design that uses ethnographic methods of in-depth individual and focus group interviews and naturalistic observation was conducted in a large city in Canada. Participants included Aboriginal clients accessing mainstream mental health and addictions care and primary health care settings and healthcare providers;

Results:

All client-participants had profound histories of abuse and violence, most often connected to the legacy of colonialism (e.g., residential schooling) and ongoing colonial practices (e.g., stigma & everyday racism). Participants lived with co-occurring illness (e.g., HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, PTSD, depression, diabetes and substance use) and most lived in poverty. Many participants expressed mistrust with the healthcare system due to everyday experiences both within and outside the system that further marginalize them. In this paper, we focus on three intersecting issues that impact access to MMT: stigma and prejudice, social and structural constraints influencing enactment of peoples’ agency, and homelessness;

Conclusions:

Harm reduction must move beyond a narrow concern with the harms directly related to drugs and drug use practices to address the harms associated with the determinants of drug use and drug and health policy. An intersectional lens elucidates the need for harm reduction approaches that reflect an understanding of and commitment to addressing the historical, socio-cultural and political forces that shape responses to mental illness/ health, addictions, including harm reduction and methadone maintenance treatment.

Article can be found here.

Help bring back the celebration of life: A community-based participatory study of rural Aboriginal women’s maternity experiences and outcomes. – Varcoe, C., Brown, H., Calam, B., Harvey, T., & Tallio, M. (2013).

Varcoe, C., Brown, H., Calam, B., Harvey, T., & Tallio, M. (2013). Help bring back the celebration of life: A community-based participatory study of rural Aboriginal women’s maternity experiences and outcomes. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 13(1), 26.

Abstract from Authors:

Background

Despite clear evidence regarding how social determinants of health and structural inequities shape health, Aboriginal women’s birth outcomes are not adequately understood as arising from the historical, economic and social circumstances of their lives. The purpose of this study was to understand rural Aboriginal women’s experiences of maternity care and factors shaping those experiences.

Methods

Aboriginal women from the Nuxalk, Haida and ‘Namgis First Nations and academics from the University of British Columbia in nursing, medicine and counselling psychology used ethnographic methods within a participatory action research framework. We interviewed over 100 women, and involved additional community members through interviews and community meetings. Data were analyzed within each community and across communities.

Results

Most participants described distressing experiences during pregnancy and birthing as they grappled with diminishing local maternity care choices, racism and challenging economic circumstances. Rural Aboriginal women’s birthing experiences are shaped by the intersections among rural circumstances, the effects of historical and ongoing colonization, and concurrent efforts toward self-determination and more vibrant cultures and communities.

Conclusion

Women’s experiences and birth outcomes could be significantly improved if health care providers learned about and accounted for Aboriginal people’s varied encounters with historical and ongoing colonization that unequivocally shapes health and health care. Practitioners who better understand Aboriginal women’s birth outcomes in context can better care in every interaction, particularly by enhancing women’s power, choice, and control over their experiences. Efforts to improve maternity care that account for the social and historical production of health inequities are crucial.

Article can be found here