Experiences of Trauma and the Initiation of Injecting Drug Use in Ottawa; Community-Based Research Applications of the Vidaview Life Story Board Interview Tool (SRC FUNDED)

Funding Program: SRC Funded

Research Team: Mark Tyndall, Catherine Worthington, Rob Chase, Louise Balfour, Lisa Lazarus and Ashley Shaw



To better understand and address the high rates of HIV infection among people who use injection drugs (PWUID) in Ottawa, this study seeks to develop and pilot-test a novel research methodology for investigating the social determinants and root causes of injection drug use initiation among PWUID in the capital. Building on the success of the PROUD (Participatory Research in Ottawa; Understanding Drugs) Cohort Study in developing capacity, ownership and meaningful participation of PWUID in community-based research, the PROUD Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will lead the development and implementation of a new qualitative research project that seeks to investigate the relationships between experiences of trauma and initiation of injection drug use in their community. As a next step in their community-based research activities, the CAC identified experiences of trauma, mental health and stigma within health and social services as key issues in their community to explore in more depth. To overcome some of the challenges of traditional talk-based qualitative interviews, including barriers of power, trust and comfort when talking about difficult topics and experiences, this project will adapt and pilot test a new visual narrative interview tool: the Vidaview Life Story Board (LSB). The Vidaview LSB is an innovative visual interview tool with a play board, cards and notation system that facilitates the co-construction of a visual lifescape that represents the personal, relational and temporal aspects of a person`s lived experience. The application of this novel interview tool within a community-based research project constitutes a new social science research methodology for investigating themes of risk, resilience and vulnerability among communities affected by HIV. A comprehensive process evaluation will be conducted concurrently with the primary research to evaluate the utility of the LSB tool for improving data quality, and to assess the experiences of both interviewers and participants in the CBPR process. This evaluation will support further development of this novel visual interview methodology, as well as contribute to the advancement of community-based research methods among people who use drugs. The primary aim of this research is to develop and pilot test a new qualitative research methodology while enhancing our understanding of the relationship between experiences of trauma and initiation of injection drug use among people who use drugs in Ottawa. This new knowledge will empower the CAC to advocate for improved services and develop anti-stigma messaging that responds to the complex realities of trauma and drug use faced by their community.

Program: Research