Vital signs: the future of the harm reduction model in the National Health Service
The Harm Reduction (HR) model is currently recognized in Portugal as a key strategy for intervening with People Who Use Drugs (PUDs). This is a result of not only of the Portuguese drug law but also of the interventions of outreach teams and low-threshold methadone program.
HR interventions within the National Health System (NHS) are increasingly frequent, and once synergies have been identified in Primary Health Care (PHC), there is an obvious potential for improvement.
When we think of the professionals that work in the PHC, the first line of the NHS, we ask ourselves what do these health care professionals look when they identify (or not) a client that uses drugs (recreational or abuse).
As health professionals specialized in Addictions and Dependencies (AD), working with the HR model as a reference, we felt the need to understand the reality of PHC responses in the region. We consider that we can adjust our articulation with the PHC professionals in order to improve the user-centered model advocated by the NHS.
Opinion Questionnaire application to approximately 4500 PHC professionals of the Regional Health Administration of Lisbon and Taggus Valley (ARSLVT), in a single moment, by sending the questionnaire via professional email.
Improving synergies between the AD Teams and PHC services can be a determinant factor for the citizen to identify myths and false issues that stand between the concept of drug use and abuse.
Fostering health professionals' knowledge of the health and community resources network is essential to reduce asymmetries, increase the reception of populations that tend to be marginal or marginalized by the health system, and increase the level of participation of PUDs as NHS users.
We believe that this study allows a first approach to these professionals and identifies guidelines for the next HR steps within the NHS.