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“No, my name’s not on the lease at all”: an interpretive phenomenological analysis of unstable housing and hepatitis C among people who inject drugs

Roisin McColl (Disease Elimination Program, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia and School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
Peter Higgs (Disease Elimination Program, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia and School of Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)
Brendan Harney (Disease Elimination Program, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia; School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia and Department of Infectious Diseases, Alfred Health and Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)

Drugs, Habits and Social Policy

ISSN: 2752-6739

Article publication date: 22 April 2024

Issue publication date: 14 May 2024

110

Abstract

Purpose

Globally, hepatitis C treatment uptake is lower among people who are homeless or unstably housed compared to those who are housed. Understanding and addressing this is essential to ensure no one is left behind in hepatitis C elimination efforts. This study aims to explore peoples’ experiences of unstable housing and health care, and how these experiences influenced engagement in hepatitis C treatment.

Design/methodology/approach

Purposive sampling was used to recruit people with lived experience of injection drug use, hepatitis C and unstable housing in Melbourne, Australia. In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted and a case study approach with interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to identify personal experiential themes and group experiential themes.

Findings

Four people were interviewed. The precarious nature of housing for women who inject drugs was a group experiential theme, however, this did not appear to be a direct barrier to hepatitis C treatment. Rather, competing priorities, including caregiving, were personal experiential themes and these created barriers to treatment. Another group experiential theme was “right place, right time, right people” with these three elements required to facilitate hepatitis C treatment.

Originality/value

There is limited research providing in-depth insight into how personal experiences with unstable housing and health care shape engagement with hepatitis C treatment. The analyses indicate there is a need to move beyond a “one size fits-all” approach to hepatitis C care. Instead, care should be tailored to the needs of individuals and their personal circumstances and regularly facilitated. This includes giving greater attention to gender in intervention design and evaluation, and research more broadly.

Keywords

Citation

McColl, R., Higgs, P. and Harney, B. (2024), "“No, my name’s not on the lease at all”: an interpretive phenomenological analysis of unstable housing and hepatitis C among people who inject drugs", Drugs, Habits and Social Policy, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 37-50. https://doi.org/10.1108/DHS-08-2023-0034

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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