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A Drug-Related Good Samaritan Law and Calling Emergency Medical Services for Drug Overdoses in a Canadian Setting

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-08-26
Abstract: 

Background

People who use drugs (PWUD) are known to fear calling emergency medical services (EMS) for drug overdoses. In response, drug-related Good Samaritan Laws (GSLs) have been widely adopted in the USA and Canada to encourage bystanders to call emergency medical services (EMS) in the event of a drug overdose. However, the effect of GSLs on EMS-calling behaviours has been understudied. We sought to identify factors associated with EMS-calling, including the enactment of the Canadian GSL in May 2017, among PWUD in Vancouver, Canada, a setting with an ongoing overdose crisis.

Methods

Data were derived from three prospective cohort studies of PWUD in Vancouver in 2014–2018. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with EMS-calling among PWUD who witnessed an overdose event. An interrupted time series (ITS) analysis was employed to assess the impact of GSL on monthly prevalence of EMS-calling.

Results

Among 540 eligible participants, 321 (59%) were males and 284 (53%) reported calling EMS. In multivariable analysis, ever having administered naloxone three or more times (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.00; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08–3.74) and residence in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood of Vancouver (AOR 1.96; 95% CI 1.23–3.13) were positively associated with EMS-calling, while living in a single occupancy hotel (SRO) was negatively associated with EMS-calling (AOR 0.51; 95% CI 0.30–0.86). The post-GSL enactment period was not associated with EMS-calling (AOR 0.81; 95% CI 0.52–1.25). The ITS found no significant difference in the monthly prevalence of EMS-calling between pre- and post-GSL enactment periods.

Conclusion

We observed EMS being called about half the time and the GSL did not appear to encourage EMS-calling. We also found that individuals living in SROs were less likely to call EMS, which raises concern given that fatal overdose cases are concentrated in SROs in our setting. The link between many naloxone administrations and EMS-calling could indicate that those with prior experience in responding to overdose events were more willing to call EMS. Increased efforts are warranted to ensure effective emergency responses for drug overdoses among PWUD.

Document type: 
Article
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Fighting racism

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021
Abstract: 

Background: Racism has a profound impact on children well-being. In fact, researchers have found links between experiencing racial discrimination and mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety and conduct problems. We therefore set out to identify effective interventions for reducing racism in children.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating interventions to reduce racism. After applying our rigorous inclusion criteria, we accepted five RCTs evaluating 11 interventions.

Results: Two interventions showed promising outcomes. Books that recounted close friendships between non-refugee and refugee children resulted in children having more positive attitudes towards refugees.  As well, history lessons focused on Black American’s contributions to society and their experiences of racism resulted in children having more positive attitudes towards Black people and increased their valuing of racial fairness. 

Conclusions: Two brief interventions had a positive impact on children’s attitudes towards people of colour. They offer a helpful starting point for ongoing efforts to create more equitable experiences for all children. 

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Qualitative Evaluation of a Mandatory Health Insurance ‘Wait Period’ in a Publicly Funded Health System: Understanding Health Inequities for Newcomer Im/Migrant Women

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-08-05
Abstract: 

Objectives To evaluate impacts of a residency-based waiting period for health insurance coverage on lived experiences of health and settlement for im/migrant women in British Columbia, Canada.

Design The IRIS study is a mixed-methods, community-based, qualitative evaluation of recently arrived im/migrant women’s access to sexual and reproductive care. In-depth, semistructured interviews were conducted by trained multilingual and multicultural interviewers with lived migration experience in the participant’s preferred language.

Setting Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from July 2018 to January 2020.

Participants Data collected from community focus groups (four groups, n=29) of both service providers and im/migrant women was used. Following this, qualitative interviews with service providers (n=10) and im/migrant women (n=47) were conducted. Eligible participants self-identified as women; were aged 18–49 and had arrived in Canada from another country. Eligible providers were employed in the health, social or legal sectors working with im/migrant women.

Results The wait period resulted in mistrust and internalised stigma for racialised im/migrant women, for whom the policy resulted in feeling ‘undeserving’ of care. Resulting administrative burden produced delays and unmet need for care, particularly related to sexual and reproductive healthcare and children’s health. Unexpected costs meant difficult choices between survival and care. Negative health outcomes included the inability to family plan, difficulties during pregnancy, as well as hardships related not being able to seek help for sick children. Community-based organisations provided support in many areas but could not fill all gaps produced by this policy.

Conclusions Findings highlight severe, yet commonly overlooked, health inequities produced by a mandatory health coverage wait period within a purportedly ‘universal’ healthcare system. Health system policies such as mandatory ‘waiting periods’ produce discriminatory and inequitable outcomes for im/migrant women. Policy reforms towards full ‘healthcare for all’ are urgently needed to affirm the health and human rights of all im/migrants.

Document type: 
Article
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COVID-19 and the Impact on Children's Mental Health

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020
Abstract: 

The COVID-19 public health crisis has created significant challenges for children in British Columbia. These challenges have included most children facing restrictions in their contacts with family members and friends, as well as temporary school closures. Many children are also part of families that have experienced economic hardships. Beyond the social, educational and economic costs, there will also be mental health consequences. This rapid review therefore aimed to determine how the pandemic and its associated challenges may affect the mental health of BC’s children, including those who may be disproportionately harmed. The overarching goal was to inform and assist policymakers to support all children in BC during COVID-19 — and beyond.

Our systematic review identified one relevant original study on the mental health consequences of previous pandemics and five systematic reviews on the mental health consequences of natural disasters for children. The findings showed dramatic increases in rates of anxiety, posttraumatic stress, depression and behavioural challenges compared to rates typically found in the general population of children. Other literature suggests that some groups may also be disproportionately affected, including children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families and those who have faced extreme or cumulative adversities. Racism may contribute to Asian-Canadian children facing added hardships. Indigenous children may also be particularly disadvantaged given the cumulative adversities associated with the legacies of colonialism. As well, children with neuro-diverse special needs such as autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, developmental delays or other disabilities may have greater mental health needs during the pandemic.

On balance, the available research evidence suggests that BC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic must make children’s mental health a high priority — ensuring that children do not experience additional avoidable adversities due to either the pandemic or the public health responses. Central to these objectives will be: providing additional necessary prevention and treatment services; ensuring that public investments go towards effective interventions; preventing avoidable childhood adversities including reducing socioeconomic disparities; and tracking child outcomes so that all British Columbians can see the progress. Failing to address children’s mental health now will lead to greater costs in the future, if mental health problems are allowed to persist into adulthood. COVID-19 is an unprecedented public health crisis. Yet it also presents an unprecedented opportunity — to make BC a place where the social and emotional wellbeing of all children is highly valued and where children are the focus of sustained collective efforts to ensure their healthy development.

Document type: 
Report

Prevalence of childhood mental disorders in high-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis to inform policymaking

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021
Abstract: 

Question Mental disorders typically start in childhood and persist, causing high individual and collective burdens. To inform policymaking to address children’s mental health in high-income countries we aimed to identify updated data on disorder prevalence.

Methods We identified epidemiological studies reporting mental disorder prevalence in representative samples of children aged 18 years or younger—including a range of disorders and ages and assessing impairment (searching January 1990 through February 2021). We extracted associated service-use data where studies assessed this. We conducted meta-analyses using a random effects logistic model (using R metafor package). 

Findings Fourteen studies in 11 countries met inclusion criteria, published from 2003 to 2020 with a pooled sample of 61 545 children aged 4–18 years, including eight reporting service use. (All data were collected pre-COVID-19.) Overall prevalence of any childhood mental disorder was 12.7% (95% CI 10.1% to 15.9%; I2=99.1%). Significant heterogeneity pertained to diagnostic measurement and study location. Anxiety (5.2%), attention-deficit/hyperactivity (3.7%), oppositional defiant (3.3%), substance use (2.3%), conduct (1.3%) and depressive (1.3%) disorders were the most common. Among children with mental disorders, only 44.2% (95% CI 37.6% to 50.9%) received any services for these conditions.

Conclusions An estimated one in eight children have mental disorders at any given time, causing symptoms and impairment, therefore requiring treatment. Yet even in high-income countries, most children with mental disorders are not receiving services for these conditions. We discuss the implications, particularly the need to substantially increase public investments in effective interventions. We also discuss the policy urgency, given the emerging increases in childhood mental health problems since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (PROSPERO CRD42020157262).

Document type: 
Article
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Longitudinal Associations Between Bicycling and Having Dependent Children, in Middle-Aged Men and Women

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-09
Abstract: 

Bicycling has multiple health benefits. Child-rearing may influence bicycling, but little is known about the impact of this between men’s and women’s bicycling, or of number and ages of children on bicycling. This study examined the longitudinal associations between having dependent children and bicycling for transportation and recreation over 4 years among mid-aged men and women. Data were from the HABITAT study (Australia). We analysed data from three survey waves (2007, 2009, 2011) using multilevel logistic regression stratified by gender (n = 7758). Findings indicate that having dependent children was associated with bicycling for transportation and recreation in contrasting ways for men and women. The odds of bicycling were higher in men with ≥2 children aged under 18y than men without children (transportation: OR = 1.93, 95% CI: 1.26, 2.98; recreation: OR = 2.37, 95% CI: 1.67, 3.37). Over time, the odds of recreational bicycling were lower in women with ≥2 children than women without children (OR = 0.83, 95% CI: 0.73, 0.93). However, for both men and women, the odds of recreational bicycling were higher in those with children aged 6–12y than those with younger or older children (men: OR = 1.86, 95% CI: 1.39, 2.49; women: OR = 1.79, 95% CI: 1.31, 2.46). Interventions to promote bicycling must therefore consider gendered differences in bicycling for travel and active leisure, and family circumstances. An opportunity to promote bicycling might be to target parents with children aged 6–12y.

Document type: 
Article
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Portable HEPA Filter Air Cleaner Use During Pregnancy and Children’s Behavior Problem Scores: A Secondary Analysis of the UGAAR Randomized Controlled Trial

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-07-05
Abstract: 

Background

Developmental exposure to particulate matter (PM) air pollution may impair children’s behaviors. Our objectives were to quantify the impact of reducing indoor PM using portable HEPA filter air cleaners during pregnancy on behavioral problems in children and to assess associations between indoor fine PM (PM2.5) concentrations during pregnancy and children’s behavior.

 

Methods

This is a secondary analysis of a single-blind parallel-group randomized controlled trial in which we randomly assigned 540 non-smoking pregnant women to receive 1 or 2 HEPA filter air cleaners or no air cleaners. We administered the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC-3) to caregivers when children were a mean age of 23 months, and again at a mean age of 48 months. Primary outcomes were the four BASC-3 composite scales: externalizing problems, internalizing problems, adaptive skills, and the behavioral symptoms index. We imputed missing data using multiple imputation with chained equations. The primary analysis was by intention-to-treat. In a secondary analysis, we evaluated associations between BASC-3 composite indices and modeled trimester-specific PM2.5 concentrations inside residences.

 

Results

We enrolled participants at a median of 11 weeks gestation. After excluding miscarriages, still births and neonatal deaths, our analysis included 478 children (233 control and 245 intervention). We observed no differences in the mean BASC-3 scores between treatment groups. An interquartile increase (20.1 µg/m3) in first trimester PM2.5 concentration was associated with higher externalizing problem scores (2.4 units, 95% CI: 0.7, 4.1), higher internalizing problem scores (2.4 units, 95% CI: 0.7, 4.0), lower adaptive skills scores (-1.5 units, 95% CI: -3.0, 0.0), and higher behavior symptoms index scores (2.3 units, 95% CI: 0.7, 3.9). Third trimester PM2.5 concentrations were also associated with some behavioral indices at age 4, but effect estimates were smaller. No significant associations were observed with PM2.5 concentrations during the second trimester or for any of the BASC indices when children were 2 years old.

 

Conclusion

We found no benefit of reducing indoor particulate air pollution during pregnancy on parent-reported behaviors in children. Associations between indoor PM2.5 concentrations in the first trimester and behavioral scores among 4-year old children suggest that it may be necessary to intervene early in pregnancy to protect children, but these exploratory findings should be interpreted cautiously.

Document type: 
Article
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How Does the British Soft Drink Association Respond to Media Research Reporting on the Health Consequences of Sugary Drinks?

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-07-02
Abstract: 

BackgroundSugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are the leading global source of added sugar intake and their consumption is associated with negative health outcomes, such as diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and overall mortality. Despite consensus within the public health community about the need to reduce sugar intake, the non-alcoholic beverage industry engages in efforts to publicly undermine the evidence base surrounding the harmful effects of SSBs. There has been limited investigation of how SSB industry actors engage in public debates to challenge public health research and policy on SSBs. To address this gap, we thematically analyze the public comments and press releases of the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) since May 2014. ResultsA total of 175 news articles and 7 press releases were identified where the BSDA commented upon new SSB research in public settings. In these comments, four strategies were observed to undermine new research. First, the BSDA challenged study rigour and research design (n = 150). They challenged the policy implications of research by stating observational studies do not demonstrate causation, refuted data sources, questioned researcher motivations, and claimed research design did not account for confounding factors. Second, the BSDA positioned themselves as an altruistic public health partner (n = 52) intent on improving population-level nutrition citing their voluntary industry commitments. Third, the BSDA promoted concepts of safety that align with industry interests (n = 47). Lastly, the BSDA argued that the lifestyle of individual consumers should be the focus of public health interventions rather than the industry (n = 61). ConclusionThe findings illustrate the BSDA reliance on arguments of causation to discredit research and avoid policy interventions. Given the attention by the BSDA regarding the purported lack of evidence of causation between SSBs and non-communicable diseases, it is imperative that members of the public health community try to educate policy makers about (a) the complex nature of causation; (b) that evidence in favour of public health interventions cannot, and do not, solely rely on causation studies; and (c) that public health must sometimes abide by the precautionary principle in instituting interventions.

 

Document type: 
Article
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Interpersonal and Structural Contexts of Intimate Partner Violence Among Female Sex Workers in Conflict-Affected Northern Uganda

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-08-29
Abstract: 

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most prevalent form of violence against women, yet remains under-researched among sex workers in sub-Saharan Africa. We explored the interpersonal and structural determinants of recent IPV among female sex workers in northern Uganda. This analysis drew on data from a community-based cross-sectional study (conducted May 2011–January 2012), involving 379 female sex workers in Gulu, northern Uganda. Using logistic regression and multivariable modeling, we examined the correlates of recent male-perpetrated physical or sexual IPV. Of 379 women with noncommercial partners, 59 percent reported having experienced recent moderate/severe physical or sexual IPV. Reporting recent client violence (adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 3.67; 95 percent confidence interval [CI]: 2.31–5.83), doing what their partner wanted (AOR: 2.46; 95 percent CI: 1.46–4.13), and forced sexual debut (AOR: 1.92; 95 percent CI: 1.20–3.05) were independently associated with moderate/severe IPV; recent police arrest and/or incarceration were/was marginally significantly associated with IPV (AOR: 2.25; 95 percent CI: 0.86–5.88, p = 0.097). Greater odds of IPV among sex workers were associated with recent workplace violence, forced sexual debut, and gendered power dynamics favoring male partner control. Programs and policies promoting the safety and health of marginalized women and addressing gender dynamics and violence are needed.

Document type: 
Article
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Structural Determinants of Dual Contraceptive Use Among Female Sex Workers in Gulu, Northern Uganda

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015-06-03
Abstract: 

Objective

To describe the characteristics of female sex workers (FSWs) who do and do not use dual contraceptives (i.e. male condoms plus a non-barrier method) in Gulu, northern Uganda.

Methods

The present analysis was based on data gathered as part of a questionnaire-based, cross-sectional study conducted between May 2011 and January 2012. FSWs aged 14 years or older were recruited through peer-led or sex worker-led outreach and community-based services. Logistic regression was used to identify correlates of dual contraceptive use.

Results

Among the 400 FSWs who participated, 180 (45.0%) had ever used dual contraceptives. In the multivariate model, dual contraceptive use was positively associated with older age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.04–1.15; P = 0.001), prior unintended pregnancy (AOR 1.53, 95% CI 1.01–2.34; P = 0.046), and HIV testing (AOR 5.22, 95% CI 1.75–15.57; P = 0.003). Having to rush sexual negotiations owing to police presence was negatively associated with dual contraceptive use (AOR 0.65, 95% CI 0.42–1.00; P = 0.050).

Conclusion

Although a history of unintended pregnancy and accessing HIV testing might promote contraceptive use, criminalized work environments continue to pose barriers to uptake of sexual and reproductive health services among FSWs in post-conflict northern Uganda. Integrated links between HIV and sexual health programs could support contraceptive uptake among FSWs.

Document type: 
Article
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