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Open Access Open Badges Research

Injecting on the Island: a qualitative exploration of the service needs of persons who inject drugs in Prince Edward Island, Canada

Jessica M McCutcheon* and Melanie A Morrison

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, 9 Campus Drive, Arts Building, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A5, Canada

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Harm Reduction Journal 2014, 11:10  doi:10.1186/1477-7517-11-10

Published: 4 March 2014



Few studies have investigated the service needs of persons who inject drugs (PWID) who live in less populated regions of Canada. With access to fewer treatment and harm reduction services than those in more urban environments, the needs of PWID in smaller centres may be distinct. As such, the present study examined the needs of PWID in Prince Edward Island (PEI), the smallest of Canada's provinces.


Eight PWID were interviewed about the services they have accessed, barriers they faced when attempting to access these services, and what services they need that they are not currently receiving.


Participants encountered considerable barriers when accessing harm reduction and treatment services due to the limited hours of services, lengthy wait times for treatment, and shortage of health care practitioners. They also reported experiencing considerable negativity from health care practitioners. Participants cited incidences of stigmatisation, and they perceived that health care practitioners received insufficient training related to drug use. Recommendations for the improvement of services are outlined.


The findings indicate that initiatives should be developed to improve PWID's access to harm reduction and treatment services in PEI. Additionally, health care practitioners should be offered sensitisation training and improved education on providing services to PWID. The findings highlight the importance of considering innovative alternatives for service provision in regions with limited resources.

Injection drug use; Harm reduction; Service provision; Syringe access; Canada