Dr. Barbara Fornssler, an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) was awarded a Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) 2019-2020 Sprout Grant, which is funded in partnership with the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR).
Dr. Fornssler’s project, “Perspectives, pathways and priorities of people with lived and living experience of substance use: Informing policies” was awarded a grant of nearly $180,000. The project seeks to inform policies and practices to enhance health system capacity for serving people with lived and living experience (PWLLE) of problematic substance use. Developed in consultation with PWLLE and two community-based service organizations, the study asks three guiding research questions:
- What do the perspectives of PWLLE reveal about the current nature of harm reduction and recovery services in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan?
- What are the actual pathways of PWLLE as they navigate harm reduction and recovery services?
- What are the priorities of PWLLE for programs, services and policy changes?
The patient-oriented approach to this study is unique as it engages not only individuals who have access harm reduction or recovery health supports, but also those who have not formally accessed care for problematic substance use. By doing this, Dr. Fornssler seeks to understand underlying barriers for accessing care.
“We know that for people who use substances, stigma is one of the greatest barriers to accessing care. Many people are fearful about seeking health services for substance use because of prior negative experiences, and concern about the perceptions of employers, friends and family. This project, guided by people with lived and living experience, will help us address the question of how we can change our approaches to reduce stigma and enhance access to the health systems, so that people of all demographics are connected to care in Saskatchewan.” Said Dr. Fornssler. “Our team is grateful for the opportunity to conduct this research so our health systems are better equipped to provide more timely, responsive, and collaborative supports for people who use substances in Saskatchewan”.