Drug Use-Related Discrimination in Healthcare Settings and Subsequent Emergency Department Utilization in a Prospective Cohort Study of People With a History of Injection Drug Use

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Abstract

Background: People with a history of injection drug use face discrimination in healthcare settings that may impede their use of routine care, leading to greater reliance on the emergency department (ED) for addressing health concerns. The relationship between discrimination in healthcare settings and subsequent ED utilization has not been established in this population. Methods: This analysis used longitudinal data collected between January 2014 and March 2020 from participants of the ALIVE (AIDS Linked to the IntraVenous Experience) study, a community-based observational cohort study of people with a history of injection drug use in Baltimore, Maryland. Logistic regressions with generalized estimating equations were used to estimate associations between drug use-related discrimination in healthcare settings and subsequent ED utilization for the sample overall and six subgroups based on race, sex, and HIV status. Results: 1,342 participants contributed data from 7,289 semiannual study visits. Participants were predominately Black (82%), mostly male (66%), and 33% were living with HIV. Drug use-related discrimination in healthcare settings (reported at 6% of study visits) was positively associated with any subsequent ED use (OR = 1.40, 95% CI: 1.15–1.72). Positive associations persisted after adjusting for covariates, including past sixth-month ED use and drug use, among the overall sample (aOR = 1.28, 95% CI: 1.04–1.59) and among some subgroups. Conclusions: Drug use-related discrimination in healthcare settings was associated with greater subsequent ED utilization in this sample. Further exploration of mechanisms driving this relationship may help improve care and optimize healthcare engagement for people with a history of injection drug use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1210-1220
Number of pages11
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Volume59
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Stigma
  • discrimination
  • emergency department utilization
  • people who inject drugs
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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