Acceptability and willingness to use a mobile drug consumption room in Lisbon
Ahead of opening Portugal’s first Mobile Drug Consumption Room (MDCR) in Lisbon, information from People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) and local community members was necessary to determine current needs and shape the intervention. A participatory and peer-led process was ensured at all stages of data gathering and planning of the intervention.
Prospective clients were surveyed to determine their willingness to use the service, preferences for use, and to gain sociodemographic information. Persons over the age of 18 who reported injection drug use were recruited using convenience sampling in the main open drug use scenes in Lisbon. In-person interviews were conducted by trained peer workers between November and December of 2017. The results (N=72) of the questionnaires were analyzed, providing descriptive statistics.
There is a high level of willingness to use the MDCR, primarily for reasons of hygiene, privacy and security. Users most often expressed a desire to use the MDCR on a daily basis. Potential clients are socially marginalized and many suffer from unstable housing. Most are daily users and engage in unsafe injecting practices, such as public injecting and material sharing. High levels of Hepatitis C, HIV and Hepatitis B were observed among the target population with low levels of healthcare access and utilization. Preferences were gauged regarding the scheduling of the MDCR’s hours and amount of time willing to travel to reach the MDCR, which will be taken into account for implementation. The combination of high levels of willingness to utilize the service and high levels of need among the target population support implementation of Lisbon’s first MDCR.
Continual evaluation and participation of PWUD and other community members will be necessary to maximize the public health and social impacts of this intervention, relative to this baseline. The plan to continue a participatory and peer-led process for the MDCR includes, but is not limited to, integrating peers and local community members within the operation, management and evaluation of the service. This research adds to a growing literature about Drug Consumption Rooms in Europe, which is especially limited concerning MDCRs.