Open Access Open Badges Research

Worry as a window into the lives of people who use injection drugs: a factor analysis approach

Heidi Exner1, Erin K Gibson1, Ryan Stone2, Jennifer Lindquist2, Laura Cowen2 and Eric A Roth3*

Author Affiliations

1 AIDS Vancouver Island, 1601 Blanshard Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 2J5, Canada

2 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, PO BOX 3060 STN CSC, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 3R4, Canada

3 Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria, PO Box 3050, STN CSC, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 3P5, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

Harm Reduction Journal 2009, 6:20  doi:10.1186/1477-7517-6-20

Published: 29 July 2009



The concept of risk dominates the HIV/AIDS literature pertaining to People Who Use Injection Drugs (PWUID). In contrast the associated concept of worry is infrequently applied, even though it can produce important perspectives of PWUID's lives. This study asked a sample (n = 105) of PWUID enrolled in a Victoria, British Columbia needle exchange program to evaluate their degree of worry about fourteen factors they may encounter in their daily lives.


Exploratory factor analysis was used to analyze their responses.


Factor analysis delineated three factors: 1) overall personal security, 2) injection drug use-specific risks including overdosing and vein collapse and, 3) contracting infectious diseases associated with injection drug use (e.g. HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C).


PWUID in this study not only worry about HIV/AIDS but also about stressful factors in their daily life which have been linked to both increased HIV/AIDS risk behaviour and decreased anti-retroviral treatment adherence. The importance PWUID give to this broad range of worry/concerns emphasizes the need to place HIV/AIDS intervention, education, and treatment programs within a broader harm-reduction framework that incorporates their perspectives on both worry and risk.