Presenting author: Shoghig Tehinian
Presenting author biography:
As a recent MPH graduate of University of Montreal, Shoghig Tehinian works as a research agent at the Department of Health Management, Evaluation and Policy at the School of Public Health. She is also a planning consultant for a national community health program aiming to reduce drug-related harms in Quebec.
Addressing opioid overdoses: peer-led national public health program for a better response to drug-related harms in the Quebec opioid crisis
Shoghig Tehinian, Guillaume Tremblay, Michel Perreault, Diana Milton
“Prevent and Reduce Overdoses – Training and Access to Naloxone” (PROFAN) is a community-based peer-led training program initiative which uses a harm reduction approach developed to empower peers in responding to opioid overdoses they are likely to witness in the context of the growing opioid crisis in Quebec. It is also the leading opioid overdose prevention program for the training of community staff.
Designed as a “by peers-for peers” program, PROFAN uses an innovative knowledge transfer approach in which one peer and one intervention worker are paired together to educate the community sector as well as people who use drugs (PWUD) and their families/friends about harm reduction principles, underlying risks of overdoses, and how to act in the event of one.
PROFAN has been implemented in 16 jurisdictions out of 18 across the province of Quebec and has reached 950 PWUD and their families/friends as well as 935 community workers while fostering the creation of strong partnerships between major stakeholders, including public health authorities, community organizations, peer groups, and researchers.
Among a sample of PWUD and their families/friends, 88% has reported beneficial outcomes including improved self-esteem, greater sense of responsibility towards others, feeling in control in situations of emergency and able to overcome stigma. As for community staff, 91% of the sample felt better equipped to intervene in the event of an overdose while helping a few change their perceptions of PWUD.
PROFAN has been able to reach the PWUD population and has widely gained acceptability not only from governmental actors, but the end-users as well. In a collaborative process, all stakeholders are developing a new version of the program following an evidence-based “train-the-trainer” design to improve organizational and individual capacities and empower communities in their response to the opioid crisis.