Why are drug-related deaths among women increasing in Scotland? A mixed-methods analysis of possible explanations

Tweed, E. , Miller, R. G., Schofield, J., Barnsdale, L. and Matheson, C. (2020) Why are drug-related deaths among women increasing in Scotland? A mixed-methods analysis of possible explanations. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, (doi: 10.1080/09687637.2020.1856786) (Early Online Publication)

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Drug-related deaths have increased significantly in Scotland in recent years, with a much greater percentage increase in deaths among women than among men. We undertook a mixed-methods project to identify explanations for this trend, comprising three parallel methodological strands: (i) an analysis of available routine data, including drug treatment data, death registrations, and surveys of people using needle exchanges; (ii) thematic analysis of interviews and focus groups with professional stakeholders and (iii) secondary analysis of interviews with women who use drugs. Results indicated that the observed trend is likely to reflect multiple, interacting causes. Potential contributors identified were: ageing; changing patterns of substance use; increasing prevalence of physical and mental health co-morbidities; changing relationships and parenting roles; changes to treatment services and wider health and social care provision; unintended consequences or poor implementation of recovery-oriented practice; and changes in the social security system. Policy responses to rising drug-related death rates require a gender-informed approach, recognising the commonalities and differences between men and women who use drugs; the diversity of experiences within each gender; and the intersections between gender and other forms of inequality, such as poverty.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:EJT contributed to this project whilst seconded to Scottish Government as part of her NHS specialty training in public health and completed production of this article with the support of a CSO Clinical Academic Fellowship [CAF/17/11] and funding from the Medical Research Council [MC_UU_12017/13 & MC_UU_12017/15] and Chief Scientist Office [SPHSU13 & SPHSU15]. RM contributed to this project whilst on a Scottish Graduate School of Social Science professional internship with Scottish Government, completing the production of this article with the support of the Economic and Social Research Council. Funding for transcription of the additional interviews from the Older People with Drug Problems project and their secondary analysis was provided by the Scottish Government Substance Misuse Unit.
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Tweed, Dr Emily
Authors: Tweed, E., Miller, R. G., Schofield, J., Barnsdale, L., and Matheson, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1465-3370
Published Online:11 December 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy Journal 2020
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727651SPHSU Core Renewal: Measuring and Analysing Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health Research ProgrammeAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/13IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727671SPHSU Core Renewal: Informing Healthy Public Policy Research ProgrammePeter CraigMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/15IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU13
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU15