Integrating and Measuring the Effect of Sex, Gender and Gender-Transformative Approaches to Substance Use

We are developing and testing the impact of incorporating sex, gender, and gender-transformative principles into existing responses to substance use in three jurisdictions in Canada (Nunavut, Manitoba and Saskatchewan). We are particularly focused on improving responses to the use of opioids, cannabis, tobacco, and alcohol. Our three pilot sites have assisted us in co-developing interventions that incorporate sex, gender, and gender-transformative principles into their particular programs, messages, staff education and materials. We are measuring the implementation of these approaches and their effectiveness in shifting knowledge, attitudes, and practice among service providers, managers, and program planners. Our first activity was surveying staff attitudes and practices in the sites and creating training, education, program design, and prevention messaging in conjunction with practice wisdom from three pilot sites. Simultaneously we carried out a large evidence review of all available evidence on sex, gender and the four substances. It has led to several scoping reviews of evidence and one small systematic review, all published in the Special Issue mentioned below. We have also distilled the evidence into a handbook for practitioners and policy makers that will be a permanent learning and training tool for the substance use response system in Canada and elsewhere. This handbook is focused on 10 key questions that illustrate the impact that sex and gender have on substance use, and indicates how this knowledge can inform more tailored responses by service providers and policy makers.

Our evidence review forms the basis for some of the work in this Special Issue on Sex, Gender and Substance Use, from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH). Our Senior Investigator was the Guest Editor, and our team members contributed 5 articles (see ‘Key Resources’) exploring how sex and gender matter to substance use patterns, treatments, policies, prevention and harm reduction.

Key Resources

 

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This study is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Team Grant: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sex- and Gender-Based Analysis on Knowledge Translation.

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